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