Elana Wolff: "Cuy"

Guinea-pig whole and splayed on the plate.                     
The room they put you down in
bright, table-banter light. 
The chef from the winter tour group,  
his fork in your neck
and knife at your thigh, can laugh: 
His wife is wearing a Tilley hat. 
My gut’s a mess and there is no taking it out. 

In Ottawa the rabbit Jasper sleeps on a pine-
chip bed in the den, dines on lettuce & pellets. 
Jasper is a virgin and a bachelor, like a man. 
Originally he was Julie, till he grew. 
The other four-legged—Pat the cat—
fell (or leapt) from the tenth floor ledge
and lived. We found her in the shrubbery, 
given back, but different. Whether 

we’re apprentice to the common law of harm
or not, we feel it. Pat flicks her tail and licks
her coat, dips her tongue in the water bowl, 
yet never appears to eat. This is her capacity now, 
her vision. I think of this in Otavalo, cuy’s ex-shape
on the plate. Cuy in a field, complete somewhere, 
restored and incorporeal. Gathered to her species again, 

Elana Wolff’s poems have recently appeared (or will appear) in Event, Prairie Fire, CV2, The Puritan, The Junket (UK), The Impressment Gang, The Dalhousie Review, and The Antigonish Review. Her poem “The Golden Mile, The Bluffs” was commissioned by Ontario Book Publisher’s Organization as part of the organization’s current What’s Your Story? Project. Her essay, “Paging Kafka’s Elegist,” won The New Quarterly 2015 Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest and has been chosen by Tightrope Books for inclusion in The Best Canadian Essays of 2016.