A Persistent State

We all remember our first
dead thing as a vapor:
the dead butterfly,
the dead bee,
on the windowsill.
I remember the dead
deer half-buried in the sand,
the water waving
as I strolled along
the lakeshore. But
that was years ago.

I cut up the chicken
with a few quick slices—
the leg, the wing,
released from the carcass
with the oddness
of a developing
practiced hand.
Should I consider
this a horror
or would Grandmother
be ashamed
by the luxury
of a weekly chicken?
Am I soft or just
too insulated from
the delicate and the persistent
state of death?

I break down
the chicken,
careful not to waste
the passing of life
one into another
just as I stood by
and touched the papery skin
of Grandma’s forehead
before the sudden rattle
of breath, before her silence,
before the rest
of my life.

Daryl Muranaka lives with his family in New England. In his spare time, he enjoys aikido and taijiquan, and exploring his children’s dual heritages. He has written one book of poems, Hanami, and two chapbooks, The Minstrel of Belmont and Leading the Beast Home.

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