Wednesday Poem

The Slaughterhouse
Vona Groarke

Some gap in the sidings, a man too few
at the turn into the pens, and they were out,
scattering like buckshot through the cars.
Until a clutch of lads in bloodied aprons
bore down on them with shouts and whirring arms.
Within minutes, they were gathered,
it was done. The lads strayed back to work,
the steel doors closed on the skirl and din,
the driver tidied his gates, and pulled away.
It was chill to the bone. I had been called to come.
I was late, though I didn’t know then, not on the journey,
with the plain-chant of the train seeing me home
through towns that came too slowly,
like final words, like beads in her hands;
not when I passed within miles of the house;
not at the station; not as I watched
the flurry of pigs; not when they were bested;
not while they were killed; not when I was driven away.

From: Other People's Houses
Publisher: The Gallery Press, Oldcastle, 1999