The Pig Roast

The afternoon wound down. The pool was calm.
Some childrem played around the emptied trough.
The small, low town was far enough away
behind the trees to look as though it were
a thread of road, some boxes, a toy steeple
propped upon a branch. The parents bustled in
to cocktails when the lightning bugs began.
The children had the country on their shoes.
Outside, they watched the greasy farmhand set
a tractor's broken axle in the half-light.
They trailed him with a hundred aimless questions
until an aunt corralled them in the house.
A wobbly mother volunteered to fight
the crusted shoes and knotted laces off.
Outside, the farmhand closed his day. He crouched
beside the rifle hanging from the fence
and scratched the pig's broad head, then slowly rose
as though he'd left a teacup balanced there.
After the shot, the farmhand turned to spit,
and, with a rag, wiped from his dirty hands
what must have been the day, being done with it,
and turned then to the night, and night's demands.

:: Joshua Mehigan, The Optimist (Ohio University Press, 2004)

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