Katie Berta Meat

You, too,

would curl, darken,


under pressure of heat

the two tendrils

of octopus on your plate

might remind you.


is dependent on the measure

of pain

it allows us

to ignore—the complicated

embroidery for which some

young woman’s fingers

had to callous.

The pleasure we get from

the dress, when she finishes:

the fruit

of the meat

of a brain

so like the ones that are scrambled

with eggs or cut out

with the animal’s tongue

and eaten

or are covered

in cheese or capers

or chili sauce.

It’s like

the way you decide a steak is done:

by comparing its tenderness

to the palm of your hand,

the part just under your thumb.

Or the way

your body becomes just parts,

is rent, butchered,

when some young man yells

to you

from across a street.

How does it feel to be a harvest?

How does it feel to be

meat? You are a luxury,

but it does not feel


What does the octopus feel

before he’s caught?

Before, the octopus was consumed

with cracking open the crab

he’d captured on the bed

of his reef. Before,

all the octopus’s thoughts

were consumed

by meat.

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