For Sale (1976)

23 Jul

at age 7
i fell in love with a cow
which was not liked by my old man
despite her willingness to give milk
easily and indiscriminately.
he tried to sell her for months
and for some reason
no one wanted her.
you know her.
she’s the one who stepped on my foot
the summer before
and i cried in anticipation of the hurt;
this immensely bulky animal
putting her hoof on a 6-year-old’s foot
had to hurt.
but she didn’t.
she took back her hoof quickly and
seeing me cry
she cocked her gigantic head
and watched my tears roll down
and cut clean channels into my dirty cheeks.

my old man tried to sell this animal
for an entire summer.
he cursed her and often beat her with a thick tree branch
but she continued to give us milk
in the mornings
and i loved her for that.

in the fall i left for the city
to start second grade.
i took the train out to the capital
and we ate fatty bacon on sandwiches
with red wine
while the tracks led out of the village
and around the countryside
into the dirty, noisy central station.

in november my old man wrote pleasantries
asking how i was doing in school
and if i was being a good pioneer…a good little Communist.
and was i learning all the songs and poems about our Leader.
and was i doing volunteer work on saturdays, cleaning the streets.
and by the way
a thief had snuck over the fence a few nights before
and cut my favourite cow’s tongue with a sharp blade
out of spite.
the animal was left to bleed to death
and my old man found her the next morning
collapsed in the field.
it was terribly unfortunate
that he didn’t get to sell it and make money
she was cursed
she was meant to be a financial loss to him
you see how cursed she was
and god settled that issue;
she got what she deserved,
but what great steaks and ribs they have now
thanks to this bittersweet turn of events
did them a favour.
and the old woman prepared the best cow tongue
and black olives
he’s ever had in his life.
next time i come to visit at the country
i’ll eat like a little king.


3 Responses to “For Sale (1976)”

  1. slyboots2 23/07/2007 at 2:11 PM #

    Have you ever seen the 4H kids selling off their livestock at the fair? They have spent months and months growing the animals to prime size and condition. They have invested in black shoe polish for their hooves. They have combed their tails and curried their hides. They have made them an object of love.

    And then they sell them at auction- for food. It is the single most heartbreaking thing I have ever witnessed. And hope to never do so again. Too damned close to the food chain for me. Bloody hypocrite that I am.

  2. Rachel 23/07/2007 at 4:52 PM #

    There is something to be said for teaching people where their food comes from even if it is uncomfortable. Most of us like to pretend they are two different things; animals and meat. Maybe we should all be forced to think about it more. I know I try not to. My heart breaks for lx and his cow, yet I could eat a burger for dinner and not think too much about it. Something’s not right with that.

  3. Lx 23/07/2007 at 5:09 PM #

    there is something to be said about that.
    but i still like a good burger, too.
    we should all re-read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, though.
    just to keep ourselves honest.

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