Venison

Leah Naomi Green

The deer is still alive
in the roadside grass.
In an hour, we’ll cut her open,
her left hip broken, the bone
in her dark body; now the white Camaro
shocked in the night and the boy

wet faced in the backseat,
his parents at a loss by the hood,
too young to have meant
any of it: the giving
or taking. They are glad for our headlights,
glad for our rifle.

Her head still on, she hangs
outside our kitchen window
for the blood to drip, skin
pulled down like a shirt.

I watch my husband undress her
with a knife. I wash the blue plates.
When I turn the water off, I can hear
his blade unmoor muscle, sail
through her fascia.

We put her leg and buttock
on the wooden table, where we
will gather her between us
to eat all year. It is all I see:
a thing, alive, slowly becoming my own body.

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Leah Naomi Green is the author of The More Extravagant Feast (out this month from Graywolf Press), which was selected by Li-Young Lee for the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets. She teaches English and environmental studies at Washington and Lee University, and lives in the Shenandoah Mountains where she, her partner, and their daughters homestead and grow food. She received an MFA from The University of California, Irvine, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Paris Review, Tin House, The Southern Review, Ecotone, Pleiades, and Shenandoah.

Winner of the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets, selected by Li-Young Lee

“[The More Extravagant Feast] keeps faithful company with the world and earns its name. The darkness and suffering of living on earth are assumed . . . and yet, it is ultimately informed by the deep logic of compassion (is there a deeper human logic?).”
—Li-Young Lee, judge's statement for the Walt Whitman Award

“In her tender, delicate, humane lyrics, Green registers the pulse of our species: the rituals of marriage, parenthood. The lyric herein is the air moving through our mortal lungs. . . . This is a book that consoles, nurtures the spirit.”
—Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic

“Leah Naomi Green’s beautiful book, her patient and generous book, The More Extravagant Feast, studies, beholds the ways everything, everything, turns around something else—the mother around the fetus, the child around the mother, the beloving around the beloved, the fruit around the seed, the hunter around the buck. And in this beholding these poems remind how the turning around so often becomes, or allows, the turning into. Another word for this witnessing? Gratitude.”—Ross Gay

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