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Click the play button below to listen to Jodie Hollander read
“In the Freezer.”

she kept pig haunches,
the shoulder joints of cows,
buffalo neck and guts,
all stuck to the ziplock bags.
If anyone ever asked,
Mother simply laughed.
Oh, that! she’d exclaim.
That’s all for the dog.
I still picture the beast
Mother loved to feed:
its big, hairy mouth
covered in dark blood.
She seemed to enjoy
watching it devouring
some meaty kneecap
or shredding a pig’s ear.
It’s those animal instincts,
Mother would always say,
sipping her jasmine tea.
Yet she hardly noticed
when it chewed our shoes
or snatched a chicken wing
straight from our fingers,
nor did she seem to care
when it snarled at our father
or sank its giant teeth
right into his calf—
Just those animal instincts,
Mother calmly explained.
Can’t change those instincts,
she said when she left our father
for a man half her age.
The animal went with her,
yet cowered in the presence
of Mother’s butcher-lover,
and even trembled a little,
seeing the terrified eyes
of each innocent creature
as he grabbed them by the neck
and lifted up the knife.