Life Science by Rage Hezekiah

I plucked an owl pellet from the ground
cradling it, delicate, as if a palm-sized bird

and not the mass of bones and fur purged
from a second stomach. In science class

as a girl, I learned these dark forms teemed
with the remnants of undigested pieces.

Wielding a small scalpel, my latexed hands
unfolded the debris, bits of spiny tail,

shards of teeth and claws. Sharpness cased
in what looked like hardened mud, but wasn’t.

I was fascinated picking it apart, plunging tweezers
into particles of animals long dead. The girl beside me

raised her palm, tentative into the room’s warm air,
but they don’t look like they could hurt anything,

eyes fixed on color photos of their feathered bodies.
We’d been told owls eat their prey whole.

I’ll never know, I thought, who’s capable of what.

Rage Hezekiah is a former farmer, baker, and doula, who earned her Master of Fine Arts degree from Emerson College. She was a finalist in the Hurston-Wright College Writers Contest and received an honorable mention in the Zero Bone Prize Poetry Contest. Her poems have appeared in Fifth Wednesday, Glassworks and Off the Coast, as well as other journals, and are forthcoming in the minnesota review and Columbia Poetry Review. Her work has also been anthologized in Other Tongues: Mixed Race Women Speak Out, and was featured in the collection Wide Awake, Every Week: 52 Writers Share Their Aha! Moments.

Read more of Rage Hezekiah’s featured poetry in Portland Review‘s Winter 2016 issue.