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The Hen is More Tender Than the Tom
Donna Hilbert

Thanksgiving, first holiday
away from the kitchens
of our mothers, our baby almost ready
in the pot beneath my skin,
I fix a turkey for our meal.
The bird and I are shaped the same:
all breast and belly atop
a pair of legs too thin
to hold such heft.
I put my hand into the opening
under her breast
and pull the sack of innards out.
Rub the cavity with salt
remembered words instruct.  
Smear butter across her chest
Cover with a tin foil tent
Roast in a slow oven
until the flesh gives way         
I peel and mash potatoes,
mix green beans
and Campbell’s soup, push
a cylinder of slithery red
from a can of Ocean Spray,
empty olives into a dish.
Don’t forget to baste.
Make gravy, white and thick.
Husband takes the first hack  
from the spot where the wattle had been,
finds a strange wand (was that once a neck?)
still lurking under the skin.

From The Congress of Luminous Bodies (Aortic Books, 2013).
Used here with the author’s permission.



Donna Hilbert writes and teaches private workshops from her home in Long Beach, California. Her work is widely published in multiple languages and she is featured in the documentary, “Grief Becomes Me: A Love Story.” Her newest collection, The Congress of Luminous Bodies, is just out from Aortic Books. Learn more about Donna at




Post New Comment:
Wilda Morris:
A fun poem, indeed. Pregnancy and roasting a turkey for the first time - a potent combination for a poem!
Posted 11/29/2013 11:53 AM
ha! fun poem, Donna, and o I can relate...
Posted 11/27/2013 12:56 PM
Love it!
Posted 11/27/2013 08:30 AM
This is courageous!
Posted 11/27/2013 05:56 AM

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