Geddes, Gary

Canada, (b. 1940)

Transubstantiation

  1. The pig stands squarely
  2. in the boarded stall, looking
  3. stupid and out of his element.
  4. My rope is tied in a slip-knot
  5. around his thick neck.
  6.  
  7. My father asks
  8. if I am ready.
  9.  
  10. The stall is
  11. clean and smells of fresh straw.
  12.  
  13. Through the cracks blades of sunlight
  14. carve the cool interior of the barn.
  15.  
  16. He puts the knife, freshly sharpened,
  17. on a bale of hay at stall’s end, opens
  18. the breach of the gun, pushes in a shell
  19. (a 22-long)
  20. and closes the breach. He points the gun
  21. at the pig’s head and before cocking it
  22. nestles the tip of the barrel
  23. between the pig’s eyes. I strain
  24. at the rope as the pig backs off,
  25. flat moist snout extended.
  26.  
  27. He asks if
  28. I am ready.
  29.  
  30. The report is loud
  31. in the empty barn and wings begin to beat
  32. overhead in the loft. The new straw
  33. will come soon, to pad the thinning cushion,
  34. and it will come with great excitement
  35. and sneezing.
  36.  
  37. Front legs stiffen,
  38. he settles back on his haunches like
  39. the dog at mealtimes. I slacken the rope.
  40.  
  41. He grabs the left ear
  42. (no, the right) and with his other hand
  43. takes up the knife. Thick well of blood
  44. gushes from the stuck throat,
  45. covers rope.
  46.  
  47. It is hot
  48. and sticky.
  49.  
  50. I close my eyes and then nothing.
  51. When I am awake again it is hanging
  52. by its hind legs from the loft-pole.
  53. I can see it from my window.
  54. It has become meat.
  55.  
  56. 1973

© Gary Geddes. The New Oxford book of Canadian verse in English, edited by Margaret Atwood. Toronto: Oxford University Press (1982).

About the Poet:

Gary Geddes, (b.1940), is a Canadian poet and educator. He was born in Vancouver, British Columbia and raised on the Prairies and the West Coast. Geddes attended the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto, where he obtained a Ph. D. (1975). He has taught at the University of Victoria and is now a member of the English department at Concordia University, Montreal.

Geddes has written and edited over thirty-five books, including seventeen books of poetry, as well as fiction, non-fiction, drama, translation, criticism and anthologies. He is most known for being a political and humanist poet, but his writing is also deeply rooted in place, and includes environmental or nature themes. [DES-07/13]

Additional information:

Gary Geddes at:

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A random image of a pig, hog, boar or swine from the collection at Porkopolis.