The Lairage and the Stunning

by Frank Gallimore

That there is such a thing
as the cleanness of a kill,
and the strange varieties of mercy in it,
of the lairage and the stunning,
the slab and the shambles,
the sharpening of the hook
and the swiftness of the
cutting as the cable is held
away from the bestial floor.
That an air gun shushes
between every thud as if
to soothe the body down
to the hosed drain. Above
an oyster-gleam of a shucked
scapula, a transfigured swine
swings in and out of the doorway,
streaming its cardinal humors.
Whether it is hung or hanged
depends on something other
than semantics, depends, that is,
on whether you eat anything
with a face. Whether you eat
anything that could have
stared at you while driving
on the Five past field after field
of their grazing mouths,
the sometimes dumbfounded hulks
of waiting, whatever you might
see yourself adding to the list
of what might have loved you,
those whose panged skulls flood
with feeling and won’t empty
until you empty them.
It depends on whether you’d eat
anything that, if alive, would clutch
and sting your tongue as your
teeth sank in, succulent as it is,
savory and bursting,
anything with the texture
and consistency of your tongue.
If you watch a butcher’s fingertips
getting on with the odd, slippery
business of holding a hog down,
flensing and tugging the skin back
until it shines among shocked reds,
the body’s potions startling up,
a brilliantine to grease it on its way
to becoming a hunk of nothing
clotted on the knife, you must determine
what the splayed anatomical angel is for,
what to do with its beauty
heaved there, hoisted on a hook,
gutted so the ribs arch into
flightless wings that huddle air
and sway behind its drilled stare.
What will you do with
the drenched table, the opened
spleen now pitched on the heap,
sweet and secret to no one?

Published on April 22, 2014