How to survive the winter

(Jamestown, 1609)

A crack to the back of the skull—
easy to break, like a bird’s
with a smallish axe;
remind yourself this body

is an animal’s, that your own
body is an animal’s, that survival
is no crime when she was dead days
ago. It was an act of God, of nature,

and our store of horses, dogs and cats
and rats has been depleted; nothing grows
and we are an ocean away from home.

Brain, muscles of the face, cheek meat
and tongue—imagine this is a feast
of thanksgiving; imagine venison, duck,
eels, goose, flavoured with pumpkin.

See the one who stripped the flesh
from his wife, salted her into jerky,
made the sustenance last months on end—

it’s easy when you convince yourself,
and the Virginia winter is dark
and your eyelashes are frozen solid
and it’s so very hard to see.