After Flayed Rabbit [poem] by Elizabeth Catanese

In the basement, my grandfather hung
raw sausage over folding chairs,

cut hunks of roast beef thin
for Sunday dinner.

The flesh steamed the kitchen windows,
stained the Lenox plates.

Before his death, I imagined
his terminal ulcer expanding,

his skin disappearing until he looked
like Soutine’s Flayed Rabbit.

I saw every beautiful organ that kept him
alive for ninety-two years:

blood squirting across veins
heartbeat expanding lungs.

Instead he told me how a man had stolen a ham hock
in a red wheel barrow while my grandfather hid

underneath his hospital sheets.
What was I going to do about it in my condition?

He had had a dream or a hallucination
and he had had a point.

I asked, Do you know if Jimmy
from Jimmy’s Meat Market is around anymore?

Jimmy died years ago, he said matter-of-factly.

I kissed my grandfather goodbye.

When I saw my grandfather for the first time dead
his skin was pulled taught against his bones.

Animal unfit for carving,
no choice made for burning.

Slow descent into frozen Christmas ground,
osso buco and angel hair after memory.


Image of 1930s Switchboard Operator

[Refer: This poem refers to Joel Peckham’s essay “Flight.”]

Elizabeth Catanese is an artist and writer embracing creative hybridity. She was a finalist for a Lois Cranston prize from Calyx, and her work has appeared in Adanna Literary Journal, OVS, and Anomalous Press. She lives in Philadelphia and is an English and humanities instructor at Community College of Philadelphia.

Image by Jason Pettis