Friday Lunchbreak

At noon, still wearing their white
plastic helmets and long smocks,
they leave the frozen slabs
of calf hanging from aluminum
hooks on the loading docks
and stride down the street
past my window, headed
for the bank on the corner.
I remember the gray calf we found
last spring in Virginia, hidden
by its mother in a gully;
at six days it scampered
and wobbled.
                     We watched
it grow heavy and slow, until
half a year later, fouled
with its own shit and dull of eye,
it stood with the other cattle,
hock-deep in muck by the barn.

Then it was gone, perhaps north
to this gallows place, where the men
tromp back, grinning, some with bottles
in brown paper sacks, these men
in spattered white smocks
who are as thick and wide
as the sides of beef they hug
and wrestle, angels of meat.

:: Gregory Orr, The Red House

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