Evisceration of a Roebuck, with a Married Couple

Flemish Portrait, 1625

Blood, starched linen, matted fur.
What makes a marriage?
The prosperous pair in black silk
stand over the guts laid bare;
he leans over his work,
knife at the ready
along his thumb,
to cut a further slice
from the folds of red-edged skin
while looking miserably elsewhere.
The deer is propped against a brilliant
lobster, downy antlers alert, echoing
the legs of the dead fawn
who twists, with uncanny grace,
to caress the husband’s hand
with its tiny hoof. She ignores
the platter of grapes she holds,
even the sprightly vine
curling and waiting to greet
the tongue hanging off the maw
of a pig’s inverted head.
White scatters like dabs of butter:
artificial clouds out the window,
the belly of a hanging calf,
the husband’s businesslike cloth,
set over his shoulder while he guts,
the wife’s achingly polished brow,
her hair pulled back as tight as
the pig’s tongue is loose,
like the tongue she refuses to use.

Martha Hollander

Martha Hollander

Martha Hollander’s first book, The Game of Statues, won the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets. Her work has appeared in many periodicals includingMississippi Review,The Southwest Review, The Paris Review, The Yale Review, The New Republic, and several anthologies. She is Professor of Art History at Hofstra University.She lives in Jackson Heights, New York.
Martha Hollander

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Author: Martha Hollander

Martha Hollander’s first book, The Game of Statues, won the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets. Her work has appeared in many periodicals including Mississippi Review,The Southwest Review, The Paris Review, The Yale Review, The New Republic, and several anthologies. She is Professor of Art History at Hofstra University. She lives in Jackson Heights, New York.