United States, (b. 1942)
After the Pig Butchering
“What does the pig think of the dawn?
They do not sing but they hold it up.”
— Pablo Neruda
- I go back two days later
- for the skin.
- It is dismal weather.
- The floor of the shed is wet
- where blood mingles with the red paint
- and the dark soft manure.
- It is a watercolor of confusion and pain:
- of the loss of a piece of thought.
- The feeding pans are in chaos,
- tipped like crazy men around the corners.
- I have gone back to pick up the skin.
- We left the entrails to droop in a compost heap.
- I see them sinking like heat into the ground.
- I know parts of them are ovaries.
- And there are two blue-lipped stomachs
- that seem to smile at me.
- The skin is on the roof of the shed.
- Carrying it I can tell that it weighs
- about as much as my five year old son.
- It is solid like a head against my breasts.
- I begin to like carrying it and squeeze it closer,
- rub my cheek into it,
- and touch the taut nipples.
- They are watchtowers
- on both sides of the river we cut open.
- I am bringing it home.
- Now the smell is on me;
- grease on my hands.
- I bring it all into my house.
- It slides around the doors,
- under the beds.
- It is pungent
- and obsessive.
The quotation that introduces this poem is from Pablo Neruda’s poem Bestiary that is also in this collection.
- The pig’s ears blossom and fold
- like lush jungle lilies.
- It is their only attractive feature
- except for their shell shaped feet
- that try to escape each night into the creek.
- Each pig roots under the Prickly Ash,
- undermines the foundation of the sauna,
- and buries all cloths left lying around.
- They are the fat of my existence,
- a greasy black skillet.
- The Dani of New Guinea have lived forever
- on pigs and sweet potatoes.
- They have never been Christianized.
About the Poet:
Cary Waterman (b. 1942) is a poet. She earned her undergraduate degree in English at the University of Denver and studied writing with John Williams. After graduation she was the Poet–in–Residence with the Minnesota Writers in the Schools Program, teaching poetry workshops across the state for elementary and high school students and teachers.
She is the author of five books of poetry. Her most recent book, Book of Fire was published in 2011. Her previous book, When I Looked Back You Were Gone, was nominated for a Minnesota Book Award.
Waterman co-edited the anthology, Minnesota Writes: Poetry (Milkweed Editions). Her own poems have appeared in the anthologies Minnesota Women Poets from Pre-Territorial Days to the Present (2007), Where One Voice Ends, Another Begins: 150 Years of Minnesota Poetry (2007), A Geography of Poets, Woman Poet: The Midwest, The Blue Earth Review, The Great River Review, Cutthroat, The Minnesota Women’s Poetry Anthology.
Her writing awards include Bush Foundation Fellowships, Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowships, and the Loft-McKnight Award of Distinction in Poetry. Waterman has also had residencies at the MacDowell Colony and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland. She currently teaches creative writing at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. and is working on book of translations from the Catalan poet, Dolors Miguel. [DES-01/16]