Second day: cramped, claustrophobic confusion,
hard floor, faecal hooves, reek of manure.
Nose against metal, side against hide,
meat already packed, cold chill in stadium-sized rooms,
drowned in wails. Tempting troughs, funnelled food,
swallowing poison. Twelve hours with my mother,
twelve hours without her, two without my tail,
twenty until castration. Twins, triplets, my family,
masses mile upon mile, state after state,
sunk deep in dung, docile in darkness, confined, resigned.
We are already dead, and we are many.
Second month: they take my horns, cut with a hot iron.
The anaesthetic isn’t optional, yet they always opt out.
I feel the burn for days after, its fire lessened
by an eternal ache in legs grown tired
by the weight I’ve acquired as a bloated burden,
born a product with a price tag.
I lie down when I can in my clustered corner,
or I fall when my legs give way, threatening to break,
or bend to ninety degrees, and then it’s over,
release granted with a forklift ram
through an open door to bloodstained floor.
‘Downer cows’ – I’ve seen too many.
Second year: blurs into the first, and I don’t see it end,
but I see grass, green seas, without recognising the colour,
trapped and travelling, my mobile prison
counting down the miles. I feel the cool breeze as well,
taste the sweet summer season tainted
by the sour stench of manure caking my body.
Then through the bars I finally see the sun,
before the slaughter, the first time at fifteen months old,
a golden flash in the sky, followed later by the grim flash
of the taser, the glint of the knife, and there goes my life,
all for a dollar in a dirtied diner, condemned at birth,
the bastard son of a butchered economy in black and white.
And I was one of many.