In Gaelic mythology, the Cailleach
is the crone-goddess of winter and wild things

All morning the Cooper’s hawk
has been slaking the hunger
that harrows her—a house finch
seized from the feeder.

All morning hunched at her
work under the arborvitae
she takes her sweet
time to gralloch him,

too small but all she could cull.
She wields her billhook
plucking, rending, tugging,
prying tendon from bone,

the frigid yard devoid
of birds save one mourning
dove, watching, knowing
he’s safe while she

unseams her pinioned
prey and loots its rubies,
pecks the tongue from the slack

beak, then the soft dull eye-

berries, splits the wish-
bone, yanks back the matchstick
rack, the treasure-chest
lid of the numbles—

heart, spleen, crop still full
of sunflower seed, gizzard,
kidney, liver, lights,
the pinworm roil of guts—

leaving, when she leaves,
just a rickle of feathers,
not even a trace
of blood on the snow.