Marie-Aline Römer





You taught me to be a meat-eater—
to chew carefully with flesh-shredding-bones—

but I wanted to be a bird, I suppose.
Something light and aloft, edible if I intended to be.

Or smashed against a window, bone-thin, hard-boiled,
chewing dust and flour in an alleyway; you’d rather I baked

an egg on the sidewalk than eat something that would never be alive.
Where is the soul in that, said a man with a dog, and ate his bone.

You wanted to farm corn on the cob, but butter doesn’t grow on trees,
and so you became a teacher. There was a stillness to your method:

look, there’s the stove, there’s the fridge, and over here the cow.
I had a hatchet and your hand, neither one very hard, no diamonds,

but how heavy steel can be in your back pocket I found out the hard way—
running against a glass door with a cleaver in my pocket, forgotten there

when I tried to swoop from the hill, spinning my arms in crop circles.
A promise in the pain: at dinner, we scratch at old wounds.

You and I,  we sure were a team of knives, sharpening each other
until you found a bone to pick with the meat. I’d rather you didn’t eat that,

you said, teaching me: maggoty scraps of haunch, rib-eye rearing its ugly marrow.
Don’t dig your nose into somebody else’s meat, don’t trust flesh

that you didn’t see die. You said ‘meat’ like others said ‘love’ and ate the way
most people kill; all stealth and without motif, but always with aim and shot.

You taught me that meat begets a meal,
so I ate it all: the plate with the bones, the knife with the blood, the world

with all the living-bleeding-teaching. Aren’t you proud now that I
am a chink off your knife, all blade and no handle? Here I am,

teaching myself to eat grass with teeth that you gave me, all eyes for the birds,
I hold your weight, hoping to fuse to flesh to flesh in ways beyond digestion.




Marie-Aline Römer is studying Russian in Vladivostok, where she is trying to recover from the shock of recent university graduation. She is originally German, studied Chinese in London, and generally has no idea what is she doing where most of the time.

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