For the Bear by Meghan Purvis

When they decided to kill the priest it was winter
and they wanted it slow. They led him out barefoot

to a steaming pot, and had us each take turns
dipping an enormous ladle, black from other hands.

The priest’s skin went soft white like wax, freezing
too fast for blisters. It was like making candles,

like what my mother told me of butter:
how one must wash it clean, must cup it until the water clears.

Meghan Purvis

Meghan Purvis received an MA and PhD from the University of East Anglia, and an MFA from North Carolina State University. Her translation of Beowulf was published in 2013 and won the 2011 Times Stephen Spender Prize for literary translation. Her poetry has appeared, among other places, in Magma, The Rialto, and The Interpreter's House. She is currently working on her first novel.

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