Jennie Malboeuf

Song of the Cock


In the dark, the ortolan eats
and eats. He is a dumb bird.
Easily tricked, his appetite

is used against him. If just
the tiniest speck of light
were to hit his face, he might

say when. As is, his bite
is relentless. Like the night
I watched a goat finish

tire after tire before retiring
unfulfilled. He found himself
           at a great height—

little hooves held tight
against the quarry wall.
This bunting bird though,

he is a different type of secret:
we must hide during the meal.
What to do to this fat body

in a modest pot, golden belly and slight
feet. My mother covered up
in the same way, late

for Mass, a makeshift napkin veil
for all the girls.