Thursday, March 01, 2007

Bailing Wire

He pulled the spliced end of rope through the crown and fastened it to the halter. With his free hand he swung the felling-hammer over his hip and across his chest, snagging the flap of his shirt pocket with the claw-end, the shirt grandmamma had washed and pressed for him the night before. He hankered down, freed his right hand and swiped the felling-hammer across the top of the cow’s head, taking it out at the knees and hobbling it to the barn wood floor, its head split clear down the middle. Grandpapa never once made any excuses for the felling-hammer, even when he missed the mark and shored off the side of a cow’s head, or it took two swings to bring the animal down. The man in the hat never felt the need to fell dogs, even when the hunger ate away at his belly like a cancer. He remembered his grandfather yarning bailing wire around wet hide and the smell of hurried death and fright. He used catgut to shore off the weight-bags, flaps of skin and muscle settling to the bottom. He sold the innards to a pig farmer who lived beyond the one mile fence. He ground them with millet and dry suet, heaping bucket-loads of it over the hopper and into the sty pen. He preferred the lower guts and bowl as they stiffened the blend, making it easier to hoist over the sty-gate. The man in the hat’s grandfather used the money from the weigh-bags to buy whisky and Indian shag, and rock candy for the children that came round to watch him fell cattle. The pig farmer traded his manure for credit at the grocer’s, where his wife bought food, winter blankets and lantern oil. The man in the hat never spoke to the pig farmer, and never once saw him smile or unlock his jaw.

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"Poetry is the short-circuiting of meaning between words, the impetuous regeneration of primordial myth". Bruno Schulz

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