Wild Turkey Feathers by Torey Wahlstrom; for more information, visit


by Carolyn Oliver

This Thanksgiving he’ll repair the turkey,
our son informs us, serious and sure.

I can see, in a kitchen scrubbed pristine
some fine cold morning, our small son, surgeon.

Too much emptiness, he says, examining
the cavity. He calls for the missing

parts: stomach, blood, lungs, and looped intestine.
And where are its feet, its leathery head?

(Papier-mâché will be involved; he’s six.
His world is a blue globe lit from within.)

Then he whittles quills to needle points, sews
the salt and pepper feathers through the skin,

and rubs his pricked little fingers across
the ruby wattle. Bloodied wet, it glows.

And yet for all this work of human hands,
the patchwork bird’s a carcass, still quite dead.

But oh, he’ll start again: prepare, repair,
pare down and down until he finds something

earlier. Long into the night, wielding
scalpel and tongs, his back afire, the boy

labors. We wait. Near dawn, feathers turn fringe
for gleaming scales, beak turns snout, wings turn limb,

and its silent form stalks toward the light.
Though in our care it will not last the day

(its ancient eyes accuse our appetite)
we give thanks for this beast our son has made.

About Carolyn Oliver

Carolyn Oliver’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in FIELD, Indiana Review, The Greensboro Review, Booth, Glass, Southern Indiana Review, and elsewhere. She is the winner of the 2018 Writer’s Block Prize in Poetry. Carolyn lives in Massachusetts with her family. Find links to more of her writing at carolynoliver.net.