You had been the last of the boys
to learn how to slaughter properly.
Said I would do it for you. To this,
you placed a warm palm against
my back and pushed me away.
Poised above the stained block, holding
the bird and ax far from each other.
Bare-chested on a post in the August
sun, ten years old. Two swings,
one too many, and you dropped
to your knees at the slaughter
block like a boy in prayer. I don’t
recall launching off my post,
but I chased that headless body down
while it bounced around the field
in protest. Finally catching the rooster,
I held his warm body against mine
until he lay still. I stood, offering up
the kill to you. One day you would confess
that my chest was beautiful that afternoon,
all glazed in sunlight like a finger painting
of beet juice and bird feathers.
Dani Sandal has work published or forthcoming in Raleigh Review, Adirondack Review, Puerto del Sol, Monkeybicycle, Mad Hatter’s Review, PANK, THRUSH Poetry Journal, Deep South Magazine, and Stirring: Sundress Publications. She holds an MFA from George Mason University.6