Each Holy Week, babas, place orders
with Ted, the mailman, for ducks
to make Czarnina, soup from the blood.
Ted reconnoitered behind enemy lines,
his knife slitting throats of Nazis,
wounds squirting blood, death draggling
a green uniform to the pallor of red clay.
In Pittsburgh’s strip district,
Ted cages drakes, the feathers
and shit matting the trunk of the Galaxie
his son will clean to teach him a thing or two.
Through French countryside,
Ted retreats toward the bone-clang
of the front line. Seeking respite in a barn,
he surprised a frightened German
soldier eating a raw egg.
Among the smell of animal
feces and rumpty hay they stared.
At the sound of an approaching Panzer,
Ted went for the throat with bare hands.
The wide-eyed boy never even fought back.
When Ted felt warm piss soak through his pant leg,
he eased the body to the rumbling earth.
On Good Friday, at 5 a.m., Ted delivers
the ducks before his mail route,
babas expecting him
to chop off heads, catch blood
in yellow ware bowls, and pour in vinegar
to prevent coagulation. This he does,
the animals’ jittery struggle still trembling
in his hands the rest of the day.
That Wednesday after Easter,
silence at the table, one last meal
before Ted’s son deploys to Viet Nam:
leftover ham, paska, and Czarnina,
its irony taste of blood
best eaten cold.