After a visit to the Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota


You’re thinking about pigs.

You grew up with pigs.

You raised them, if “raise” is the right word for what you did, which was toss them buckets of slops every night and watch them root about in the dirt and grass and then in the broken-down barn, where they broke it down more with those astonishing snouts of theirs.

Pigs are what you’re thinking about right now.

You’re remembering them as babies, piglets in the back of a dirty white truck.

Hauled one after the other over the tailgate, knives flicking off marbles as the squeals rise high.

A sow lying on her side, mauled by miniature snouts smelling milk.

As a child’s bank, with painted curly eyelashes and a slot in a high pink back.

Galumphing across a field to a bucket of mash and tight whistled call of Soooo-eeeee, which actually is the way those who raise pigs call their pigs home.

As going to market or staying home.

As eating and enjoying egg shells, coffee grounds, and corncobs.

As having roast beef.

As taking half an hour to mate, as your young daughters pointed out once at the Oliver Kelley Farm.

As going whee whee whee whee all the way home.

As heat-seeking mamas lying on a sun-soaked country road, stopping the schoolbus.

As Spamtown raw material, slaughtered daily in numbers five times higher than the highest number guessed by a tableful of friends the other night.

As thinskinned purses with gold clasps.

In labor, huge and groaning, at the Miracle of Birth Barn at the State Fair, while humans gather around to point and stare.

As the small, anxious friend of Pooh.

As having none.

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