Yes, it’s cruel. An unseemly gluttony.
Trapping the ortolan buntings, forcing
them to gorge in the dark, mouthfeel of seeds
their only comfort in that closed, blank space.

Drowned in amber brandy, plucked then roasted,
their tiny bones crunch softly in the mouth.
The smallish wings tuck along smooth, browned skin,
like stiff Olympic lugers eaten whole.

A white cloth napkin drapes over the head
to hide the diner’s shame from the sight of
God. If that were true, I’d buy them in bulk,
wash, dry, and press them, carry folded stacks

everywhere I went, place them as needed.
Once, I carried my girl child inside me
like a burden, her cabbage head pressing
on my softened cervix, an aching pain

so agonizing I wanted her out
at all costs. My brother said there is no
home safer for her than your body. I
want this to be untrue. My sweet girl, just

now a woman, is hustling tips from old,
rheumy-eyed men who tell her smile real
pretty for me. She is home, giving me
her day, and I am handing out advice

like I have all the answers. When she’s had
enough, she stomps up to her room, cocoons
herself in piled clothes and empty dishes.
Later, in the kitchen, I see she has

eaten what I left her: a simple green
salad, grilled chicken thigh lightly seasoned.
Instead I should have said I’m sorry, should
have said there’s no mistake I haven’t made.