Love This
By Gretchen Primack
An Animal Rights Poem from

Love This
By Gretchen Primack

cows and calf
Dairy cows who have had their babies removed from them so that we can drink their milk, watch the new mother bond with her calf. Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur | We Animals

If you permit
this evil, what is the good
of the good of your life?
—Stanley Kunitz

The body floods with chemicals saying, Love this,
and she does, and births it; it is a boy
she begins to clean and nose, but he is dragged
away by his back feet. She will never touch him
again, though she hears him howl and calls back
for days.

Her breast milk is banked for others. Her son
is pulled away to lie in his box.
He will be packed for slaughter. How ingenious
we are! To make product from byproduct.
To make use of the child,
kill and pack and truck him to plates.

And when the gallons slow, we start over,
and her body says, Love this! And she does,
though in a moment she will never touch
him again. His milk is not for him.

And when the milk slows too slow,
she will join him on the line, pounds
of ground. And how we will dine!
And talk of our glossy dogs! And her body
will break up on our forks, as mothers
beg us for the grain we stuffed her with,
and children beg us for the water
scouring her blood from the factory walls.

And when her wastes and gases and panic
heat our air so hot our world stops
breathing-then will we stop? Then
will we grow kind, let the air cool
and mothers breathe?

newborn calf
Still wet from birth, the calf will be added to the rows of other calves and crates, and raised in this confinement. Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur | We Animals.

Gretchen Primack is a poet, editor, and teacher living in New York's Hudson Valley. She coordinates Ulster Literacy Association's program in the Ulster County Jail. "Love This" is reprinted on CreatureKind from Kind (Post Traumatic Press, 2015) by Gretchen Primack, used by permission.

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