Eating Game by Danielle Sellers

Mid-argument, a muffled thump. The force of it skidded us
off the dark two-lane highway. I held my daughter in my belly.

Against my advice, he jumped out to see what he’d hit. It may be a bear, I said,
having heard on the news of the many black bear sightings in the Oconee Forest.

He was gone too long, and I thought about sliding across the bench seat,
pulling the truck in drive, and leaving him there with only a flashlight.

He reappeared, reached over me, popped open the glove box,
and drew out a leather-sheathed knife with a bone handle.

Young wife I was, didn’t know he owned a knife so accessible.
You like venison?, and left before I answered: I’ve only had it once.

I was ten at my great-uncle’s country home in the North Florida swampland:
A man brought over a deer he’d drowned while canoeing the Suwanee.

The net like wind going over, the deer’s freedom sudden then gone.
Being forced to her knees under the muddy water, everything larger than herself.

I imagined the struggle, her spindly legs thrashing, silt filling lungs.
Then in the frying pan, the sweet meat coated in flour tingled my throat.

I wanted to impress my cousins, those grown men with dark mustaches
who felled pines with chainsaws and rope, who smelled of sweat and fire.

When he came back his chest was smeared with blood. Wrapped in his shirt,
chunks of round, what he could see to cut with the flashlight in his teeth.

That night, he stewed it with pinto beans and tomatoes. My daughter,
my daughter ate it because I did, because he didn’t think I would. It tasted like a game.

Danielle Sellers is originally from Key West, Florida. She has an MA from The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and an MFA from the University of Mississippi where she held the Grisham Poetry Fellowship. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Subtropics, Smartish Pace, Cimarron Review, Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner, 32 Poems, and elsewhere. Her book, Bone Key Elegies, was published in 2009 by Main Street Rag. She lives in Winter Springs, Florida, where she edits The Country Dog Review.

The food that gives her the most sustenance is “probably the day-after-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich. It’s got to be homemade white bread cut thick, slathered with mayo, turkey of course, jellied cranberry sauce from the can, and dressing. It reminds my of my childhood, my grandmother, all things that are good and holy.”

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