It’s an awkward thing to truss a chicken.
You start with a paring knife, bird belly-
up on the table before you, and make a slit
into the thin flap of skin above the right hip
and below the breast, rest
the knobby left leg bone gently into that cut.
The first time we let the dogs out
into their new house’s backyard, they ran
straight to the base of the chestnut tree
and a mound of dirt, started digging.
Underneath, they unearthed small, burnt bones
buried alongside the beer bottle glass, writhing
with worms, dozens of worms.
After you have one leg secured, tuck
the other into the opposite knee,
making a half lotus. Lay the bird
on her belly, grasp the wings- try not to notice
the way the joints still work, the way she extends.
Bend each wing behind the shoulder-
an impossible angle, you have to break them.
In the mornings, I wait for the bus
behind a blue building where a rooster
lives, I can tell by the crowing.
It is dark, but the sun is coming. The rooster
is strident. In the summer, there are blackberries
so fat and dark and ripe their very weight threatens
to drop them from the vine.
Grasp the bird by the backbone
in one hand and lift. The weight is that
of a small dog. Slide the skewer through
the crossed legs, the cavity. Light the pilot,
turn up the flames. The heat and steam
form bubbles under the skin of the breast
that pulse and pulse again.
Rebecca Bornstein is a future MFA candidate at North Carolina State University. She currently rides her bicycle, rain or shine, around Portland, Oregon.