Eating the Heifer – Sean Sexton

Eating the heifer—heart, tongue, tripe,
the brown liver and kidneys, grown
and picked from her dark garden like varieties
of fruit. Striped, pebbled, and squared stacks
of knuckle, rib, and tail come shrink-wrapped
and quick-frozen by the abattoir as if they
devised her into large pieces of candy
and unblinking eyes of bone set
in penumbras of flesh, sectioned
like saw logs with guardian haloes of fat—
seemly atmospheres of a fresh-sliced planet.
There is all her fear in our teeth, toughness
they couldn’t kill sent home in six coolers.

Her inbred anxiety shot through at the end
redeemed for chewing, and how she balked
at every gate we set for her like malicious
gods. Only the liver, marrow, and sweet-
breads and the autonomic heart remain pliant,
sovereign from harm, tender as forgiveness.
We take her in, savoring every part—bisques,
roasts, tartare, jerks and grinds; sop her juices
like spring melt from mountainside seeps,
soaking attendant carrots, spuds and onions
as easily, she joins back to the roots of creation
becomes nourishment and medicine—our
peace and succor.

Mid-wife made of meat, she births us backward
through hunger, her last poem spoken every
swallow as she increases and grows in us, very
things we devour—chine and cartilage, blood
and cell. There is no greater magic in the world
than this: to chew of her the forbs, legumes,
and delicacies her mother taught her in the bright
morning, the shade-sweetened lea. Masticate
the light, imbibe the rain, smell the evening mist
rising from the caldron as she steams and softens
in the kitchen air, and listen to her singing
to the fire from the grate, arias of the earth’s
original music borne of this world, making
again into something new.

Sean Sexton was born and lives on his family’s Treasure Hammock Ranch. He divides time between managing a 700-acre cow-calf and seedstock operation, painting, and writing. He authored Blood Writing, Poems, Anhinga Press, 2009 and May Darkness Restore, Press 53, 2019. He performs regularly at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, NV and became Poet Laureate of Indian River County in 2016.