Flies freeze into puddles
Beneath the dripping meat hooks
As we maze the swinging,
Skinned bodies to the backroom
Adjacent the loading docks:
A group of four or five men—
Day laborers and a driver—
Funnel a steer from a wooden cart
Into the “jaws of death.”
Hind legs quickly roped,
The beast is pulleyed into the air,
Where they cut its throat
And drain the warm blood
Into a pail held by a young boy,
Almost my age, dancing
Perilously beneath.
All afternoon Father drinks
Cup after cup to cure the sickness
That has settled in his lungs,
And by the time we squint out
Into the sun, my jaw
Is numb—though the fog
Has lifted one more day
Off the distant hills
Of Sausalito and Marin.

Craig Blais