The Meat Thieves

by Susan Wicks

‘Drivers wanted. Thieves and alcoholics need not
apply.’ Job ad in a butcher’s window.

And yet we’re good with meat.
Our agile fingers know how to pick
a crusted lock. Corn-fed chickens wait
quartered in the cold safe
in a fur of breath. Under our coats
we hide small finds—an ear, a stiffened wing,
a wishbone; rabbit’s kidneys slide their satin eyes
into our pockets where the fluff congeals.
We can tiptoe through blood
and leave no footprints: friends will testify
we were far from this square of sawdust,
far from ourselves.

When we first saw meat
swing from your hook our hands started to shake
as we reached for the bottle. Now we stroke apart
the cutlets on their spine of bone. The marbled fat
is cool, the suet clean as candles;
mince curls like hair
from the greased machine. And each discarded heart
is a maze of hidden chambers, every valve
gasps open. In a gold wave

the sawdust swells underfoot:
all we can take is ours

and the getaway car waiting,
packed tight from roof to floor
with perishable goods. We’ll part the air
in a screech of burnt rubber. While you turn
in your sheet we’ll stitch up your town
with a zigzag of tail-lights,
hooting and whooping at a job well done.