I came to a stop near a bird in a tree.
She was pecking the bark for a bug.
I called her Estelle, God only knows why
For she’ll have the same fate as her slug.
I arrived at the gate where a pig snorted at me.
He was rolling in a splash of mud.
Just when a lonely tear fell from my cheek,
On his brow, there was a line of blood.
Bird, what song might you sing if I chase you
Before your fate is set?
And poor pig, I think I’d have called you Pete,
Soon you’re just bacon for baguettes.
I went to my room to write a letter to Dad,
Saying please let’s rather eat cabbage.
For my heart cannot take the pig’s fearful cries
So, I’ll gladly give up the sausage.
I heard Estelle whistle high in her tree,
But arrived to see it was another.
I held my breath in the hope she was free,
Only to see the slaughter of her brother.
My tears became heavy and rose dust as they fell
In the graveyard of the dead bird.
My letter wouldn’t change any damn thing
Inside the pot on the stove being stirred.
We sat down to eat that still August night,
But my plate remained untouched.
When Mom asked me why I wasn’t digging in
All I said was I’d eaten too much.
The forks were put down and the bones sucked dry
Before I opened my mouth to speak.
I told them that eating the bird made me sad
And that cooked pig’s meat did reek.
Of course, there were laughs all around and ringing
Through the walls of our home.
The only ones not finding it funny were me and
Estelle’s husband outside on her tomb.
I went to my room to find my letter still there;
Then at once, I shred it apart.
I’d have to make peace that no one in my family,
But me, has a warm and caring heart.
Now I am under a tree singing my song to the bird
Who replies in a cheerful tweet.
But what saddens me still and remains to be true
Is with mash they will serve him to eat.
I walk to the piglets in their sty far from danger
Where I whisper to them warnings of death.
They’ve got to fatten up before the butcher comes
To take their last squealing breaths.
There’s only one hope in telling this tale.
It’s that we should take time to listen
To the song of the bird and the grunt of the pig
That cause our wee eyes to glisten.
If a tear can fall over the carcass of a pig
And we may feel a pang of regret
When we suck our fingers shining in fat,
Then there is hope for the animals yet.
(Jana Ferreira, 2015)