In the hook room I was scared, carcass meat
hung all around, sawdust under my shoes
a dry cold air pressed into my skin.
I stood in that salt cage, frosted cell
centring myself on bodies burst, exposed
flesh hung, turning inward as melted edges
exposed bones jagged from the saw
whole bodies halved, animal heads hung low
my father the butcher opened the door
unhooked a carcass, shouldered its load
took its hulking frame to the workbench
cut it, knifed it, wrestled with its lifelessness
as I stood motionless, frozen.
There was no blood in there, not in an obvious sense
it wasn’t gory gutsing before me
like the window display at the front
of the shop with its slapped pork-fillets
its pulping steak, its bulbous sausages
the slithering eye of filleted beef
ripe with syrupy god-fuel stuff.
The phallic stretch of oxydised red
as side by side the meat lay down
the goose skin chickens, their naked breasts
milky eyed with blood-splash veins, cut flesh
sticking onto more cut flesh, animal fleshes
merged totem-less, the castration of animal
displayed as muscle numbered along the bone
the aroma stench of blood suppressed
the fact of death made invisible
my father the bull-cow at the helm
dispensing orders, serving customers.
At the back of my father’s shop
blades for cutting, intestines in buckets
guts in buckets, skins in more buckets
the flecking out of the bloodied parts
the holding in of the bloodied parts
an abattoir of ageing flesh, divorced
from real live animals.
As still flesh sat, and sat, and sat
waited to be eaten, its pact with humans
long since broken, I stood in the hook room
the butcher’s daughter, heir to it all.