Turkeys at the Counter

Turkeys at the Meat Counter, Turkeys in the Road

In advance of celebrating the message given us by the prince of peace I go to the marketplace
Where dozens of once whole turkeys have gathered in sacrificial poses In plastic bags
Absent feathers, feet, heads and tails
Eviscerated, they pass over the meat counter in final flight
No longer turkeys. They are meat.
Devoid of breath the smell of their blood, of death, of rotting and decaying flesh is everywhere
Sawdust, bonedust, dust to dust.
I try to contain my revulsion
I am here on family business
Not to encounter the wandering lost spirits
Of turkeys, cows, and pigs
But to purchase their remains
So as to place them right side up in ovens
To roast them and to eat them.

On the day after the Christmas
After I’ve cooked the one time turkey
But not eaten the turkey,
Having left that reputed pleasure to others,
I take a bike ride into a gray, silent, foggy December day,
   behind the old reservoir,
   where I encounter a wild turkey.
Not a Christmas dream or allegory, but the real deal 
A turkey with toes that click on the pavement as it emerges from the woods
With spurs and a crumbled red neck
With a wattle hanging down its chest
A male turkey
With a crest, a scar, and an attitude
Awake and alert
Thinking even,
And immensely ugly having descended from its roost in the trees
He is the stuff of nightmares come to life
Yet I get off my bike to observe the turkey
To move slowly toward it
As it moves slowly toward me
Not frozen
Not running away
But coming to meet me
In peace or in territorial defiance I cannot tell
Still it approaches 
And so frightening that I know love Christ or not we are all gonna die
Really die
And the turkey, the wild glorious rainbow feathered turkey
Comes toward me
A projection of my angry inner turkey
As it looks straight at me 
And I hear its odd gurgle of speech
Moles, hair, and courage all on display
And I back away
As the turkey advances
And am driven to flight by a bird with raised feathers in a circle

Three turkeys now stand in the roadway.
As a jogger comes by the turkeys let him pass then run after him.
The jogger looks back, sees the birds moving toward him
Clicking their toes
As he moves just a little faster
Maybe a lot faster.
Have they sought his company or driven him away as well? It is no longer a question
As I approach the turkeys who stand arrayed against whatever comes at them
As I see them and they see me
And it is me who blinks first
Me who turns away, runs away actually, as they race after me
Quite literally race.
“Hey,” I yell over my shoulder, “I don’t even eat meat.”
“Well screw you anyway,” they say “Fuck all of you,” they squawk 
As they first run toward me, then fly back into the trees,
“Holocaust, holocaust, holocaust” they are gobbling
Looking at the world through the gates of Auschwitz at Christmas

© brtaub 12/05