It is slower than you thought
it would be: the knife balanced on the tip
of the breastbone, the movement from left
to right, the carefulness of it all—
the boy hunched over the pig as though
learning to write for the first time,
squinting over the curve of a ‘c’
to make his letter match the teacher’s print.
Then he wipes his forehead with an arm
and you can see the pig’s grin—
her throat cavelike and fluid;
feet thrusting; no sound.
So this is what it is
to kill a thing, you think.
You had thought the sow would smell
in death, but she doesn’t,
not from where you stand.
Really, it is like watching a film
in very high resolution,
even when they stick the hose
in and turn on the water,
so her head bobs with the pressure
and the water turns red.
Soon they will finish bleeding the pig,
and you will stand back
as the boys work:
hands opening the sow’s belly,
carrying off her gut, her spleen.
When you ask if you can touch
something, they will give you
her skin. You’ll drape it over the fence
where it hangs
like a robe,
like the pink mantle
a king might have worn
to greet his subjects
in the fields, nodding
to the dairy cow, the mountain,
Michal Leibowitz is a student of Philosophy and Religious Studies. Her previous poems include ‘Yiscah asks a question about horses’, CALYX, Spring 2017; ‘Yiscah Discovers Dissonance’, Boxcar Poetry Review, Spring 2016; and ‘Schaechter’s Birth of Eve’, The Greensboro Review, Spring 2016.
Carol Ann Duffy says: ‘Pink’ by Michal Leibowitz is a very strong poem. The title gives you a false sense of security, suggesting much less challenging subject matter. I like the calm observations in this poem, and the sense of distance achieved by the use of second person. There’s no judgment, just a watchful stillness, ‘like watching a film in high resolution’. And then there is that lovely ending, of the skin of the pig being turned into something noble.