Pig-crowds in successive, screaming pens
we still to greedy drinking, trough by trough,
tusk-heavy boars, fat mud-beslabbered sows:
Gahn, let him drink, you slut, you've had enough!
Laughing and grave by turns, in milky boots,
we stand and yarn, and whet our butcher's knife,
sling cobs of corn — Hey, careful of his nuts!
It's made you cruel, all that smart city life.
In paper spills, we roll coarse, sweet tobacco.
That's him down there, the one we'll have to catch,
that little Berkshire with the pointy ears.
I call him Georgie. Here, you got a match?
The shadow of a cloud moves down the ridge,
on summer hills, a patch of autumn light.
My cousin sheathes in dirt his priestly knife.
They say pigs see the wind. You think that's right?
I couldn't say. It sounds like a fair motto.
There are some poets — Right, he's finished now.
Melon-sized and muscular, with shrieks
the pig is seized and bundled anyhow
his twisting strength permits, then sternly held.
My cousin tests his knife, sights for the heart
and sinks the blade with one long, even push.
A wild scream bursts as knife and victim part
and hits the showering heavens as our beast
flees straight downfield, choked in his pumping gush
that feeds the earth, and drags him to his knees —
Bleed, Georgie, pump! And with a long-legged rush
my cousin is beside the thing he killed
and pommels it, and lifts it to the sun:
I should have knocked him out, poor little bloke.
It gets the blood out if you let them run.
We hold the dangling meat. Wet on its chest
the narrow cut, the tulip of slow blood.
We better go. We've got to scald him next.
Looking at me, my cousin shakes his head:
What's up, old son? You butchered things before …
it's made you squeamish, all that city life.
Sly gentleness regards me, and I smile:
You're wrong, you know. I'll go and fetch the knife.
I walk back up the trail of crowding flies,
back to the knife which pours deep blood, and frees
sun, fence and hill, each to its holy place.
Strong in my valleys, I may walk at ease.
A world I thought sky-lost by leaning ships
in the depth of our life — I'm in that world once more.
Looking down, we praise for its firm flesh
the creature killed according to the Law.