My father strangled a bird
quietly, calm as gravity,
there in the garden. He bent
as if praying to the torqued wing
reddening his hand.
The night hunkered down on the screaming
wildness, on the kicking legs, the abrupt
and awe-filled silence. I watched him
watch the beak open, close,
like rippling lake water.
I loved him, the mercy
of his heavy knuckles, the kindly
He closed the beak like a priest
closes the eyes.