Dead and drained on chain and crane,
it sways with clumsy beauty.
Raise 'im up. He's done bleedin'.
A knife nips at the Angus
hanging in the brisk air.
Pull back the skin...farther!
The butcher in white
yells over the John Deere
and tugs at the hide's lining.
There is a ripping sound
as if he were uprooting sod.
He slices the belly open
and the stomachs tumble out.
The flesh cools as he works.
The liver, a bruised pillow of iron,
hides in loops of intestine.
His chain saw shrapnels the spine,
reducing the quarters down
to what he can use:
chuck, rump, flank,
tongue, brisket, T-bone.
Copyright 1997, Allen Braden
Allen Braden has received a grant from Artist Trust, a Grolier Poetry
Prize and a Sam Ragan Prize. His poetry has appeared nationally in
Shenandoah, Greensboro Review, The Southern Review and The
Georgia Review, and locally in Poetry Northwest, Clackamas
Literary Review, Open Spaces and Raven Chronicles. A fourth
generation resident of Washington State, he grew up in White Swan and lives
in Puyallup. "The Butchering" was previously published in Green Fuse
Switched-on Gutenberg/Vol. 4, No. 2