Fifty years of your butchering art
are here, Grandfather. I hear the crash
of your falling ax into alder, the whisk
of your keen knife on the blue steel
while lambs and wethers bleat in the barn.
They knew your one quick stroke across
their throats would make their ends
the best you could create. I still don't
like the blood, Grandfather, but I know
now the need for meat.
"Nothing should suffer," you said,
and sought out old dying queens in hives
and pinched their heads. Mensik's calf--
you told us not to watch; bad dreams
would come, you said, so we walked out
and watched you anyway through a crack
in the wall--one deadly swing, no more--
from the spiking maul buckled the calf
instantly to its knees on the hay.
We knew your power then, and ran away.
And now this God, Grandfather, this God
whose songs you sang, whose church
your worship built, whose book you read,
whose name you never said in vain--
He's got you here in His shepherd's barn.
Oh, he's a shoddy butcher, Grandfather.
He's making you suffer his rusty dull
deathknife for years, crippling your legs,
then cutting off you speech to tremble,
then tying you up in a manured bed.
He won't bring you down with grace
or skill or swift humane strike of steel.
Day after day, you sit in His hallway
in your wheelchair and nurses walk by
like angels and shout half your name.
Ah, this God of yours, Grandfather, this
God has not learned even the most simple
lesson from the country of your hands.
You should have taught him how to hone
His knife, that the slaughtering of rams
is the work of those brave enough to love
a fast deft end.