A Catalogue of What You Have

by Rebecca Gayle Howell

The offal,

slop, swill (pitiless river),
the beak, the bone,

newspapers pink
with sinew’s oil

piled up on the kitchen floor
cumulous and close,

the air of drippings,
the wet air of fat,

how, when the animal opens,
the naming begins

(what will be kept
what will not be kept)

and how, when the animal empties,
a sugar sets in,

a pressure, barometric,
and all that’s left will be rendered by it,

made small and smaller by it,
until, what is there to name?—

but the lye and the burning clean

REBECCA GAYLE HOWELL’s poems and translations appear in such publications as Ninth Letter32 PoemsEcotoneIndiana ReviewHayden’s Ferry Review, and Poetry Daily. Her translation of Amal al-Jubouri’s Hagar Before the Occupation / Hagar After the Occupation was selected to inaugurate the Alice James Books Translation Series in 2011.