Arriving at our stop, it would spit us out … so much cattle, the regimented and the ragtagged, tired and numb. Once dumped, the rail-car doors would close behind us and we were whirled in the wake of the train rushing to the next station. Then, a sudden silence, and we were free to plod our way home, a final few blocks in Gravesend, a new ‘s-Gravenzande*, if you will, but an old irony. I’d stop at the bakery first and go on to Paul the butcher and his merchant’s rictus. His beef, he told me, “is like butter,” perfect for my carnivore husband. Paul’s face seemed bloodless to me, as if in some moment of devotion he chose to infuse the dead. Still more child than woman, I would study the varied cuts waiting to be bought, waiting to be devoured. I’d fancy their missing eyes, bones, and very souls crying out. These offerings of body and blood from Paul’s steel blade to my tattered tin chalice fed me for two years on the futility of hope.

© 2019, Jamie Dedes; photograph courtesy of morgueFile

* ‘s-Gravenzande – the place in Holland that some believe gave its name to Gravesend, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York that was “settled” by the Dutch.

The effect of animal consumption on the environment has been debated, but certainly current “standards” are physically and psychologically damaging to the humans who butcher them and detrimental to the air, land and water. No matter how things are modified for cleaner environment, they will always be impossibly cruel to nonhuman animals.

One thought on “From the Butcher’s Blade

  1. I think many people, including myself, have wondered what it would take to be the person who butchers or slaughters animals. Back before industrialized farming, the farmers were the only ones who got up close and personal with the animals, and they knew that the animals had been well treated – it was just part of their way of life on the farm.

    Of course, today’s process makes it easy for people to disassociate their meat eating habits from the animals they consume – all they ever see is the wrapped package, or at worst, the raw cuts in the glass case. I read an article recently that suggested that the world’s meat might all come from labs or plants by the year 2050. I hope that is true. Thanks for bringing this to peoples’ attention, Jamie. It’s important.

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