The Baying of the Cows:
Hoof and Horn, Hoof and Horn.
All that dies shall be reborn.
Each week we stand, Monday to Saturday, armed against the spray of blood and gristle, in our stiff little hats and coats, in our helmets and our hairnets, in our bright and bold bandannas. Dodging and grinning we cleave, chop and heave great humps of meat, into boxes onto pallets, onto trucks that whirr, out into the silent blue night. Coming soon, to a supermarket near you. Unpacked, shrink-wrapped, prodded, sniffed and jabbed, ready, raw and bloody, ripe, for your consumption.
Amidst the bounce and splatter of an occasionally hurled eye, we feint left, then right, behind the foreman’s back, dodging gelatinous bites of fat flicked clumsily from rubber-covered thumbs and tips of knives, at uncovered faces and foreheads. We weep with laughter, trimming fat from the raw and bloody bodies of cows, of cows, of cows.
Warm blood once surged through pulsing veins in the thick and bristly necks of heifers, now clotted, cold and sticky and, blacking silver benches. A tide of pink, a frothy mix, diluted blood and offal, pools and swirls around a drain, a pungent caustic river. Rotted flesh swept toward waste disposal units where maggots writhe, squirm, and sway; an eyeless, open-mouthed praying.
Pulley hooks shriek, conveyors groan, bodies swing and sway, and beat a hollow thud in time, thumping dully against another. Naked, flayed, skinned and pink, helpless, boneless bodies lay, waiting to be passed through blades, weighed, packaged and labelled; hand-picked, hand-hacked, hand-delivered, fresh from the factory floor, boxes of flesh and bone, wrapped, in candy-coloured coffins.
Fire and Rain, Fire and Rain
All that dies shall rise again.
Hats, hairnets, helmets, and our bright and bold bandannas protect raw and bloodied bodies of cows from our corruption; skin, spittle, saliva, and silken strands of hair, as all the once aliveness of us gravitates toward, the vibrantly red, dead flesh wobbling brightly, on counters, before us.
Image: Tracey Moffat First Jobs, Meat Packing 1978.