Hog Killing

We sat in jeans and boots on the fence,
nursing bottles of Wild Turkey,
betting on the tall one or …
the one with fat sides.
Aim is a hard thing to take.
At four feet, you couldn’t use the scope,
and a .22 hollow point needed to hit a pig
right between the eyes.

The rifle clapped in the forehead.
Her sisters fought for a place beneath her head
to lap the wild blood,
and drove her
crying, around the pen.
We shot her in four different corners
and once on the ground
before she finally shut up.
Beating the pigs away, we roped her
but couldn’t pull her out
without a truck.

There was a block and tackle hung
from a salt treated two by six stand.
This morning’s fire was already making steam
pour from the mouth of our fifty–five gallon drum.
Bled, and spiked through the Achilles tendon,
we lowered her headfirst into the scald.

Still wet, we nailed her feet to our table
and tore away her red hair
with paint scrapers.
The heavy blade of a Buck
cut tough fat in a line
from throat to crotch.
I put my hand inside her, holding,
until we slid the bucket to our table
and let go, filling it with steamy entrails.
We gave her warm, swollen bladder to the dogs
as a joke.
Hosing the flattened carcass,
slick, white ribs nestled in bacon,
we cut away hock,
tore hunks of her cheek
for sausage.


From The Swamps That Close

copyright 2004 Tyler Johnson

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