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American Life in Poetry: ‘Snow in August’ by Catherine Stearns

Poets are experts at capturing those moments when one thing reminds us of another. Here snow reminds Catherine Stearns of something we can imagine took place years before. Stearns lives in Massachusetts, and her most recent book is “The Transparency of Skin” (New Rivers Press).

Snow in August

With a flick

of her wrist, she broke

the chicken’s neck

and set it on her lap

where my sister’s head

had just been. Over

her bare knees dangled

waxy yellow bird feet,

while the white feathers

she began to pluck

fell all around us.

Poem copyright 2015 by Catherine Stearns, “Snow in August,” from The Cortland Review (Issue 66, 2015). Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited submissions.