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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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Porcupine Balls with Mushroom Sauce

 

I thought this was true of everyone

who grew up in the wild smoke valleys:

that you cooked only what you killed

and shared it with other hungry ones.

 

I’d seen bull elk quartered out back,

grandfather searing the liver just so

with onions, garlic, pinch of salt,

a cut called the hunter’s own share.

 

I’d watched the men peel the black fur

off a bear’s carcass, saw it hang

like a skinned naked man waiting

for the summer sausage grinder.

 

So when I saw the porcupine balls

thick with rice and condensed soup

served at the church supper I wondered

if someone had to boil the body first,

 

loosen the quills plucked careful

with gloved hands, wondered how long

it waited to starve when the trap line

caught it’s leg.  If I had known instead

 

this was burger packaged miles away,

wrapped in plastic, left perfect and pink,

I wouldn’t have tried to work out the taste

of what it had eaten when it was alive.

 

—Mike McGeehon