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By John Leax
Each day he walks the thirty yards
back and forth between his house and barn.
You can see him, if you stop along
the road and lean casually against
his fence. His overalls and ballcap
show him up a farmer like every
other farmer in the valley.
But don't go close. He is a shy
one, easily spooked. He will not
be known. Watch him. You will see,
as he walks, the sudden lifting
of his very human hand to wipe
the round, flattened snout through which he
breathes the same barnyard air that
reaches you at the fence. You will see
the same hand scratching at the sharp
bristled ears grown high on his hoggy
head. You will never see him pick
and bite into a crisp, sweet apple.
He will not be known because he
does not know himself, as he crosses
the worn path of his daily labor,
which pole is home. He wonders,
Is he the farmer or the farmed?
It matters more than you, staring
from the fence, can guess. You straddle
nothing deeper than convictions.
It troubles him, pouring milk
and slops into the trough, thinking
of ham and bacon, to see himself
looking up into his eyes. Will he
find his end as ignominious
as the one his snorting porcine
herd will find? Or will he be
laid out in glory, a necktie
bound about his weathered neck
and makeup plastered on his face,
the food chain broken, the body
torn only in the empty grave?
He knows himself as both and neither:
half man, half pig, half god and beast.
He longs, like you, to know himself:
a pig risen into manhood
or a man descending into pork,
like some wild god risking
everything to be his own creation.