Kate didn’t say whether she was there for the gunshot
or first cut. She started telling it at the plastic table
where the pig was thrown like an overcoat, bristles
heat-shrieked off the hide. He looked like my dog—
we asked if this revolted her, which made her laugh.
No, it’s not like that. We were sitting in a semicircle
watching her mold the air with cold-reddened hands
into the outline of a pig. Had to be three hundred
and we got twenty pounds of bacon alone. His blood
brilliant as cider in a bucket by her feet as she traced
with an Eastman knife the belly’s invisible seam.
Not many deaths get to be good deaths. We want this
to be a good death: Kate lifting out the alien jewelry
of his innards, Kate who knows how to stay latched
on a bucking horse’s back and who carefully holds
her girlfriend’s scraped knees to check for swelling.
Kate called it processing. There are worse things
than being picked apart by someone who hungers
for you and knows about love. When she spread out
her arms—the cuts were this big, so red, so beautiful—
it could almost be imagined like an insistent history.
The mammoth head lolling above. The gristled knife
and gloves. The meat sloughing from the wet skeleton
with a sound we imagine as flowers falling open.
Anna Kelley is pursuing an MFA in poetry at Syracuse University. She is a reader for Salt Hill and moonlights as a skater for Assault City Roller Derby. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Literary Orphans, Cherry Tree, Chagrin River Review, CICADA, and Fourth & Sycamore.