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“Upswing” by Tiare Devenot

“Upswing” by Tiare Devenot
March 6, 2018 Nā Leo Literary Review


By Tiare Devenot

Yesterday, in old barn

painted Falun red

I watched a elk lose his skin

by hand and knife. Limp and large it laid

on silver trailer, too small. The large hooves tangled

a foot from the gate, clumsy like a child.


It was only the second time I encountered this creature.

The first was in passing, by car—

a solitaire being in a field of yellow raps. Unnatural, but perfect,

aside the black, streaking freeway.

I remember a dark speck,

small hole

in yellow.


This time, I watched

a knife burrow under soft skin by the ankle, pulled

up to cut the coat like fabric. No blood left, as it lifted

as easily as a mask, as if made to come undone.



a body near twice the size,

hung naked from the rafters,

by ankles in iron cuffs and chains.

A body, frozen, carved

like marble—

skin under skin white,

veins cobalt and Falun red.

Her great mask, laid empty on a nearby bank,

A dark hole in the emerald grass.

A collie chewed ruby bits of her from a distance.


I turned with my stomach as weathered hunters

spun a wheel to pull the now shackled

calf alongside his mother—


Two chosen,


once more.


In life and

death, we suffer

for fields of yellow raps.



life leaves

as easy

as skin left for the dogs.

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