Boar Taint


Squatting in the corner of the pen
I take the knife from Danny’s hand,
he holds the piglet between his knees
and spreads its hind legs;
holding the knife, and my breath,
I press the testicles from their hide
slit the taut skin and squeeze them out
and wrapping the cord around my hand
snap it, while the piglet squeals and fights:
(if cut then he would bleed to death.)

Danny rubs in green antiseptic
and releases him among his siblings,
I throw the warm round offal among
the rooting snuffling mob;
a flat pink nose pops up,
a happy piglet with sideways grind
chewing on his balls.
I return the knife,
once is enough for me.

The young boar in another hut
rides everything he sees,
no doubt he’ll do the job
he was chosen for – with ease.
The old boar dangerous in his pen
walks out leisurely to his work,
reluctantly rides the wooden sow;
beneath, the squealing gilt waits
for his slithering corkscrew
to wind up half her length
seeking safety for his precious seed,
Danny guides it in.
His work completed we coax him back
careful of his tusks to his lonely pen,
return the gilt back to the herd.

“Boar-taint” they said,
“a taste in the meat,”
but I wonder about that.
Castration’s blade
cuts out aggression
but these piglets won’t grow that old
will die in adolescence
under the butcher’s knife;
‘Porkers’ they call them,
name them from the meat.

Porkers don’t have too much fun,
fight for their barley and skimmed milk,
share their trough with rats
in the hot pig-sweat smell
of their long factory shed,
lean backs of chops
ham legs going nowhere
circling shoulder to shoulder
in the dark.

The lambs and calves
get out to grass at least
get to bound about the field
before their final ride,
but porkers only move
from shed to shed
and finally when the lorry comes
jostle in an earthquake box
to their early deaths.


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