Pheasants

By Katie Kirkpatrick

three warm bodies in a fridge,

feathers stretching out into the corridor,

not apologising for taking up space.


we squeezed past them: you, me and amelie,

sucking in our stomachs,

playing at being runway models,

the dead birds as our audience.


the warmth of death shocked us.


frank said we were to pluck the pheasants,

gut them and cook them over the campfire.


you, me and amelie said no,

remembering the cinch of our waists,

noticing how the shape of the pheasants

looked the way our flat chests did in the mirror:

the slight curve, the pale pink skin.


outside, the boys were yanking feathers from flesh,

sticking them behind their ears, in their waistbands,

giving themselves a chance at flying.


once the feathers were gone, i joined them

for the final ritual. the naked pheasants,

their bare breasts still warm to the touch,

were squishy in my nervous hands.


frank told us to slip our fingers in

and pull out whatever we found.


death felt so warm.


last month, when john said

you’re just afraid of all men,

and i said

that’s not true!

maybe i was actually lying.


maybe i just didn’t want to think about the boys

with their fingers inside.

maybe i just didn’t want to think about

the warm of death.


KATIE KIRKPATRICK is in her second year reading French at St Edmund Hall. She thinks Canadian pop star Carly Rae Jepsen is an underrated genius.


Art by Leya Jasmin