Poetry: Killing In The Name Of by Sahalie Angell Martin

“Sustainable agriculture”, of
I want to know where my food comes from but not where it’s been,
Of manger meaning trough before it meant bed

Friends and foes fixate on me taking a life, forgetting
that I pulled the same life out with thin-gloved hands, feeling
for a nostril, a backwards kneecap begetting breach birth

My mother won’t eat meat that didn’t once have a name
When I got my period she pointed to sheep fucking out the window,
said the first penis she ever saw belonged to a horse and she thought
no thank you

My now vegan friends once ate at my table of
meat I’d skipped homework to raise
and now I struggle to articulate why I who so love the world
won’t make a similar sacrifice

This is what your chicken nuggets are made of
says a Tumblr post where people bemoaned its pink liquid atrocities
until one finally comments bitch that’s a tubby custard machine

Before modern medicine retreated to Foucault’s pavilions we died
at home, set the corpses of our loved ones on the mantle
and sometimes I picture it: the bodies of the flock propped in my living room,
dressed in their Sunday best
I think of what to say to them and none of it sounds like sorry

Farm death is communal, it is my father’s
students slaughtering goats halal for Eid al-Ahda holiday spit-fires
with knives sharpened to/for the quick
It is a family friend driving over late at night to make
use of a deer nobody meant to kill
My parents have always said they will die on the farm
even as my father makes plans for a wheelchair ramp from house to barn
so that my mother can take care of the ewes when her own hips quit

and I’m just so fixated on the idea of purpose
of sitting at the last bus stop before the void surrounded
by warm bodies and quiet breathing and knowing
that I’ve done the thing I was put on earth to do
And I’ve eaten from clean pastures and I’m round and full and have
never ever been lonely

Sahalie is an Oregon-born writer currently residing in Columbus, OH. She received her BFA in Writing from Emerson College and is a current MFA in Fiction candidate at Ohio State University. She has work in or upcoming from The Offing, Hobart After Dark, No Contact, and Writer’s Digest.

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