Jonathan Taylor

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Hog Slaughter, Butchertown, KY

You could smell the death on the breeze
singed alive, pungent

but that was our only knowledge,
that and the rattling tractor trailer at 6:44am.

The whole earth reeked of the scent
late summer — fall creeping through the trees

The sort of decay you could revel in,
pack the stadiums, light the pyre

The birds knew too.
Zugunruhe they called it, German:
zug to move, migrate; unruhe to be restless anxious

or so they said.

While we partied away the dying embers of sunlight
the chickadees fretted, prepared,
the warblers fled,
and the flocks soared past deep in the night as if they knew better than to frighten us.

While we worshiped at the altar of the slaughtered pig
the birds carried on the liturgy of the passing of time, as they always have—
if only we would have watched and listened.

Jonathan Taylor is a former middle school teacher turned upholsterer who occasionally finds time to write. He enjoys finding beauty in the world no matter what the source is.

Photo credit: “Delivered” by Michael Cory, (modified by Veronica McDonald).

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