Usually there is a board lying around
in the weeds, a long two-by-four that you can swing
like a baseball bat. Hold it up
to the turkey’s head, taking aim, measuring.
Wait for a good pitch.
For a moment you feel something
like friendship. Step back,
maybe you’re not ready.
Keep in mind this turkey is sick,
it’s going to die anyway.
You’re putting it out of its misery,
so to speak, before it gets the whole pen sick.
Aim for the top of a dandelion
instead. Take a moment to practice
a cut or two. Fast ball, down and low,
watching the ball hit the fat part of the bat.
Remember what your coach said
in little league. The first time
you might not cock your swing enough.
You might miss, or hesitate at the last second,
and only get a piece of it.
In that case, the turkey will react
the way you might expect,
a lot of flapping, trying to get away.
When the hit’s solid, you’ll feel it,
the way you felt it on the diamond.
You’re safe. Good eye.
Way to go, Slugger.
My great-grandpa, Ralph William Poulson,
could shear and castrate a sheep
at the same time, holding the knife
between his teeth when he was using the shears,
looping the shears in his belt
when he was wielding the knife.
He could also castrate a horse,
or a bull—because basically
it was the same procedure.
He could grab a turkey by its neck
and pop it with a little flick,
hardly raising his arm.
People say he swore like nobody’s business,
but I don’t remember that.
When I came to visit
he liked to cut my hair.
I was only six, but I remember
he cut it so short
that once or twice it made me cry.
I thought I was bald.
He thought he was being sweet.
By his standards, he probably was.
Dave Nielsen is the author of Unfinished Figures (Lynx House Press, 2016). During the day, he works as a UX writer and editor.