01 January 2005

Carol Peters

“A Single Yellow Chicken Wing Like an Elephant”
          - nearly attributable to Marilynne Robinson

I thought back to last night when I washed the bird,
sliced elbowed wings from fat breasts,
and tucked them into small spaces in the frypan.
Raw, wings are malleable and fit,
but how is a chicken wing like an elephant?
Is the wing tip trunk or tail?

I remember misreading alphabet books to my children,
“Z is for elephant,
the trunk trumpets high,
the head hangs low,
the body lumbers behind.”
So is the body the wing’s drummette?

Turns out I mistook the line—
she wrote elegant, not elephant.
It’s a function of need, what my children need,
what I need. No child of mine needs elegant.

Seriously, though, whether you're a poet or a novelist or a running back, stop whatever you're doing and read (or reread) Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping. It's far far better than I can say or you can imagine.

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