We spent the day chasing cow and calf
from stands of nerve wracked scrub
and bent back trees with faces carved in bark
and drove them up to holding pen and crush.
And felt like we were doing something that meant something
You bent down to black dirt earth and plucked a loose shook root like a violin string and said: this is how the ground sings when you pull on its vocal chord.
Quiet and full of
That sun was brutal burning,
but we made no mind of putting cancers in our pockets like coins that were gonna spend us later
because we sure as shit looked at least like we knew what we were doing down there in the dirt.
I learnt that you can cut the horns out of cows with something that looks like a two handled ice cream scoop,
but to cut out angry takes a blade.
You can ear tag them,
and hole punch them,
and they’ll still get up and walk away,
spraying perfect red.
And I learnt that if you line up enough men who don’t really know how they got there and have them look all stern and earnest while the one who does wields a blade like a kite flier knifing through the dry, you can step back and they disappear into the dust lit light.
At the end of the day,
as the sun hit the ground and bled out,
you let the dogs in with the shadows and they snarled over the tangled pink
while inch long ants came to drag away the bloodied scraps of skin and skull and root of horn scooped out
and no one, not even Captain Kurtz,
balled up in the corner, rocking and sweating,
croaked a word about ‘the horror’.
We stank of blood and sweat and worse things.
I went to sleep that night
knowing that out in the black
wild dogs were licking the blood trails
and singing our bones from out their skins and down the hill to where they were waiting.
You probably slept quiet
and woke with the sun.
I slept like a cyclone
and woke with my throat full of shotguns.