Summer 1982 • Vol. IV No. 3 Contemporary American Poetry |

Bolus

Out looking for the latest placethe hen has found to hide her eggs,I see a bolus near the barn.An owl had coughed the gray ball up. Hungry, the cat pulls it apartbut there is nothing left to eat.To see what's there, I push him away.He snarls. I find a rodent skull —it's own fur bulging from its sockets—some other bones, and one small claw.From two brown feathers in the massI'd guess it's a sparrow's claw. The owl eats all of what he kills.His acids dissolve the meat, the brain,the hot internal organs, and the eyes,then he coughs up what he can't use. The skeleton comes up relievedof all that isn't permanent.The war sits in my belly like bonesthat I can't choke up past my throat, and so do my two infidelities.I keep returning to those bonesto find some way to make them foodor just a way to get the inside out. Suppose tonight I wake at fourto hear the owl screech savagelyas he jerks a rat into the air,his talons sunk into its neck, and I double in pain and spi

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Andrew Hudgins teaches at Ohio State University. His most recent book is American Rendering: New and Selected Poems. In June, Simon and Schuster will publish The Joker: A Memoir and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will publish A Clown at Midnight.

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