{An Umbrella Special Feature}

Molly Peacock

serves as a Faculty Mentor at the Spalding University Brief Residency MFA Program and is also the Series Editor of The Best Canadian Poetry in English.

Her most recent collection of poems is The Second Blush, love poems from a midlife marriage.

A former New Yorker who makes her home in Toronto with her husband Mike Groden, two cats, and a jam-packed terrace garden, she also has another life as a prose writer. Her most recent book of nonfiction is The Paper Garden: An Artist Begins Her Life’s Work at 72.

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The Jar

In White House Meats at St. Lawrence Market
a rabbit lay in the case, next to the quail:
perfectly skinned, head still on, eyes still in,
it’s tongue hanging slightly out of its mouth,
small, pink. “Not with the head on,” a woman
whispered in a lilting voice to a man.
Thump, thump. Years ago my marriage broke up,
I got a four-month rental, and a rabbit.
How lonely it must have been by itself
in my furnitureless place. I wasn’t even thirty,
couldn’t quite take care of myself or
the spotted rabbit who met me at the door,
peed on the white bedspread, left a pellet trail
across the rug, bit the refridgerator cord

completely through, and started a kitchen fire.
My sister brought her ragged hippy friends
and their little daughter to my happy
empty new apartment. The girl loved the bunny
and I gave it to her, with the cage and food.
She held the rabbit close to her chest, its hind
quarters tucked in her hands, as I’d shown her.
Thump, thump. I packed up my place and left
for graduate school. Thanksgiving came and went.
The holidays. Then the cold spring. Up, up
I drove to the mountain shack my sister had.
The mother of the girl was there, clean-faced
in her ragged dress. “That rabbit is a guard dog!”
she said. “Thumps in its cage when someone comes.”

So now the rabbit lived outdoors in its cage,
and thumped, and grew a woolly coat. “Warns us
better than a dog!” she marveled. The other
rabbits they had didn’t do that. Oh, they had
others. They were much poorer than my sister,
who gave them extra food stamps for their girl.
“Two free-range boneless skinless chicken breasts,”
I said to Joe at the White House counter when
the whispering woman left. “She didn’t
mention the rabbit,” I said to my sister
the next winter when the clean-faced woman
left, in too-big boots, to walk through the snow
with her food stamps. Thump, thump. My naivete
disgusted my sister.

“They ate it, Molly,”
she said dryly. That was always what they
intended to do. That was why she brought them
up to my place when I was packing to go
to graduate school. My sister was working hard
to unscrew a lid from her tomato jar.
She canned all her food herself. I saw her
do what our grandfather did when he had
hard work with a pair of pliers or a wrench.
He stuck his tongue between his teeth before
he gripped, and whatever it was sprang loose.
My sister put her tongue, pink, small, between
her lips, pulled, sprung loose the lid of her jar
and began her stew


[Originally published in Poetry London.]