to my Opa, the hog farmer

in the barn, late at night
we walk across frozen manure
to find three piglets, squealing
and one, cold and stiff and dead

we watch expectantly as
mamacita’s body ripples with the waves
of labor, her moans indistinguishable from
those of a human mother giving birth

the next morning, we find
three more piglets, feet away from
mamacita, crushed or frozen
dead nonetheless

i don’t cry, only think about
the tiny hooves i can see
how they formed in the womb,
entered the world only
to crumble

i think to myself
maybe a heat lamp would help
but a thought from somewhere deep
within me asks

“how will a piglet find their mother
to nurse if there is warmth
all around them?”

the business of eating meat is
looking death in the eyes
standing ankle-deep in its shit
carrying stiff corpses to the compost pile

if you can’t, and if you wouldn’t,
why do you partake?

the next day, I happen to wear my Opa’s
wool hat, feeling deserving

I have been where he was.

-A