My father, pulling a dead raccoon
from under the shed, thanks me for the small
hours I spend with my mother on the phone
every Sunday. Speaking is an honest labor
with each word going brittle as the rotten rib cage.
“The trick,” my father says, “is to pull out slowly.
When they are this far along, the body will fall apart,
linger.” He has almost disappeared, his denim
blue back-of-knee signaling that he will stretch
further into the stink, after the bit of jawbone.
“An animal will face west when it lays down to die.”
I can’t say I believe him, though the thought
reassures some portion of instinct I carry
with me. Arms outstretched. At a distance.
Ashton Kamburoff is a poet from Cleveland, Ohio, and he currently lives in San Marcos, Texas. A 2017-2018 L.D. & Laverne Clark Writer-In-Residence at Texas State University, his work is forthcoming or has appeared in Rappahannock Review, Cobalt Journal, Shadowgraph Quarterly, and other literary journals.