Gingerbread House Lit Mag

What to Do When He Asks You To Prove Your Love (A Recipe for Ortolan Bunting)



The day will come.

Don’t flinch. Stand tall: redwood spine,
             antelope eyes.

Shake the mud from your boots.
            Time for hunting.


Swell of wings in nets.

She is red-mouthed and yellow-headed.
Sparrow-sized, the same length
as your lover’s clenched fist.

Stop your ears against her trilled
symphonics. You must forget
that she is capable of song. Cup her

in your palms. Feel her fresh heart gunning
through the slats of her thread-thin ribs.


Nest a bed with soft figs, oats, millet.
Lay her down. Pinch her beak tight and pluck

out her eyes with a needle
            or a pair of narrow-nosed pliers.

Blindness will unlock a deadly sin:

She will eat like it’s God’s will, swallow
           her way to salvation.

Watch her gorge.
Watch her grow.

Do not let your lover see.


Fill a deep snifter with Armagnac.
Do not drink any. It is not yours.

             None of this is yours.

Retrieve her. Cradle the slick swell of fluff.
Perhaps her head will roll, languid,
the way your lover’s does when he’s just waking.

Caress the curve of her glutted bosom
with the crook of your forefinger.


Plunge her in headfirst. Fill the lungs.
Hold her under until she stills.

If you must,
             imagine baptism.


Settle her in a shallow dish. Stoke your oven.
Watch the flames smelt her feathers to sheen.

Roast for exactly eight minutes at 350 degrees.


Light the candles. Lead him in.
Snap the napkin open and crease it in a cowl over
his head. Say it will capture the perfume of her juices.
Do not say it will hide his gluttony from God.

             Place your offering before him.

Instruct him to hinge his jaw wide, and nestle her in,
lips loose around the beak until he bites it off.
Treat its clatter like the first notes of a symphony.

            Whisper that he should save her lungs for last.


Listen to him rend the fig-sweet flesh of her stomach,
shudder strings of veins across his teeth, splinter each bone
until the needled shards salt his gums bloody.


In the end, he’ll gash her lungs and groan as her last song,
brandied sweet with guilt, gushes across his tongue.


Let him kiss you in the dark.
Run your lips along the lacerations she pricked open.

Taste him.
                          Taste her.

Know that you are both responsible.

Emily Rose Cole


Emily Rose Cole is an emerging poet, folksinger, and MFA candidate at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Her debut solo album, “I Wanna Know,” was released in May of 2012. In April of 2014, she was awarded the Nancy D. Hargrove Editors’ Prize for Poetry through Jabberwock Review. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as Weave, Jabberwock Review, Innisfree Poetry Journal, Word Riot, Amethyst Arsenic and others.

Artwork: “Bird on a plate” by Catrin Weltz-Stein

This entry was published on April 28, 2014 at 12:10 am and is filed under 6 (April 2014), Archive, Poetry. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.
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