Clare Rossini

The Albino Squirrel
January 12, 2015 Rossini Clare

The Albino Squirrel


Bury it, I said.  In the field.  No,

Said Steve.  We’ll put a rock on top, I said.  No. 


Steve lifted the squirrel from the street, walked stiffly through

The kitchen door and down the basement stairs


As I spread newspaper on the laundry table

Hard lit by a humming fluorescent.  And I stood


At my brother’s side as he took his penknife out and slit the belly

Beneath the keel of the breastbone,


Through the pale mutant fur

Matted and pebbled from the street.  His hands opened the soft paunch,


And together we stared

Into the riddling glitter.   I closed


My eyes.   Say when you’re done.

The sounds of slop, Steve’s grunts, and once,


A low whistle.  Steve said Look

And I blinked open,


The table spread with heaps of innards seeping into the news.  Look

He said, insistent this time.    And the knife


Nosed a small slab of lung, still pink,

As if harboring a spot of wind in it.


Lifted an intestine’s gleaming ravel.  Then took on its tip the plum-

Prize of the heart, bruise-dark,


Startled out of its music.

Oh, I said, looking at my brother, and he at me, the fluorescent light


Floating in his glasses, two lozenge-shaped fires.  The squirrel’s

Empty pouch to one side,


Its small pale head

Turned tiredly away.

Clare Rossini has published three books of poems, the first of which won the Akron Poetry Prize.  She recently co-edited an anthology titled The Poetry of Capital (University of Wisconsin, 2020). Her poems have appeared in publications such as Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, The Iowa Review, Plume, and Poetry, as well as in many anthologies, including The Best American Poetry series, in which she’s appeared twice, most recently in 2020.  She has received grants and awards from a variety of organizations, including the State of Connecticut, the Minnesota Arts Board, the Bush Foundation, and the Maxwell Shepherd Foundation; she’s also had residencies at MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the American Academy in Rome.