Out from the long shed we step into sunlight. Too bright for a life of darkness
and the small lights swinging high above the steel crates where we were born.
We grunt and startle at the feel of earth under our hoofs
But before we can remember plowing earth with our broken teeth
we are herded with shocker sticks up a long wooden ramp into a steel walled truck.
The walls are punctured with holes barely large enough to see the sunlight.
And there I find a faint trace of the scent of pigs I once knew.
We are packed so tight that we can hardly breathe
Some of us are foaming at the mouth as the floor begins to rumble under our hoofs
Our bodies slide and plow against each other with crushing weight at each bump and turn.
Hot air is filled with billowing exhaust burning our throats. So thirsty now.
At last the rumbling stops. And we are standing in our own feces.
Some of us have slipped and fallen on top of the broken bodies
of those who can no longer withstand the sweltering heat.
We wait and wait our stillness broken by an occasional choking groan
at the smell of our own terror roiling across our flanks.
Then the door swings open and the men with shocker sticks
shout and prod us out of the truck and up a long ramp to a steel door.
Now we hear the screams of those who have walked up the ramp before us.
No way to turn back down in the press of bodies coming up the ramp
We try to climb the walls slippery with urine
ignoring the pain of the shocker sticks and the shouting men
as each one of us disappears through that terrifying door.
Until I am alone before the door, the door that yawns open
and I am thrust into that steel mouth.
Something hard grabs me by the throat and holds me by the head
The last thing I see is the hammer slamming down
My knees buckle; the floor opens under me
I am sliding down a long chute slippery with blood.
A hook grabs the tendon in my hind leg
I am hoisted into the air
My muscles thrashing
as the knife finds my throat
and life slips away forever.