Poems by Sydney Doyle

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Deboning Trout

by Sydney Doyle

From Canary Summer 2017

Sydney was raised among the pines near the upper Delaware watershed but has since migrated, with the blue crabs and the blue herons, to the Jones Falls watershed in the Chesapeake Bay area.

When my father made me watch him
pierce the skin at the gills
and tail end of the trout,
making two smooth cuts,
I felt something swim in my stomach.
With a pair of scissors, he cut
loose the spine on either end, hooked
his index finger into the exposed pink flesh
and tugged the bone through
the wound. Half-exposed,
I could see a backbone built barb by barb.
His wet hand grabbed my hand,
held it on the slick bone,
and he told me to pull, slowly.
Bristle after bristle emerged
until I held the whole spine in my hand:
a small comb covered in blood.
In quick cuts, he removed the fins,
bent the head back,
pulled it down the body,
as skin and glittering scales slid off.
What was left: the bare flesh,

The Skull

by Sydney Doyle

From Canary Fall 2017

I saw it one afternoon on the walk back from the school bus stop
in a spruce tree: hung among the green needles gleaming
in the sun. My father had shot a buck three nights before.
I smelled the peroxide first, then the rot
as I stared up into the dark tunnel where its nose would be,
through the crater eyes arched above, at the towering antlers,
and I touched the bones in my own face. It is strange to imagine
what is beneath one’s own skin—imagine it dissolve in my palms
as I press my hands to my face and feel where cheek-bone ends
and eye begins, and realize, for the first time, the coming emptiness inside.

What Had Killed Her

by Sydney Doyle

From Canary Spring 2017

I saw the sheen of the vulture’s black wing
before the smell of something dead
filled the car.

The bird’s hunchbacked, half-heart body bent
into the neighbor’s cat: a fat Calico
whose green eyes I’d often catch lit in headlight,
before she’d turn her pointed head.

I thought of the two children
she waited for the school bus with.
Their hands wriggled after her
black tail snaking into hyacinth.

I’d sped down this road countless times
before. I’d once seen the cat,
with a chipmunk in her mouth.

But a certain kind of creature eats the dead, like this:
white talons dipped into a ribbon of innards,
black beak cut into fur, picking at the long expired.
The yellow vulture-eye pinned
on something beyond the body.

I honked the horn,
though the cat was already dead
and gone with the taillights
of what had killed her.

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