“Bless the Feral Hog” by Laura Van Prooyen


Found in Willow Springs 83

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. . . Saint Francis / put his hand on the creased forehead

of the sow, and told her in words and in touch / blessings of earth

-Galway Kinnell, “St. Francis and the Sow”


The ‘Hog Apocalypse' may finally be on the horizon.

-Texas Department of Agriculture, Commissioner Sid Miller


I wasn’t bothered by the hogs. In fact,

I welcomed the pack of them foraging in nearby brush,


an antidote to my loneliness.

At the Hill Country cabin, my companion was the voice


of the radio newscaster I’d listen to afternoons in the parked car,

doors flung open to the country breeze, to hogs


dotting the landscape. Sid Miller is not the only one

who’d call me a fool. If he has his way, farmers


will lure swine with poison feed so they slowly, painfully

bleed as their innards bubble up blue. I know


the hogs cause damage; they scrape land bare,

burrow holes deep and wide enough to hold a sleeping


man. Wasn’t it enough to encourage hunters in helicopters

to shoot from the sky? What if St. Francis


put his hand on the hairy forehead

of one of these sows? Or the creased, wide, shiny


forehead of Sid? If the blessings of the earth

were spoken into us, and we began remembering


through our own thick length,

from the top of our heads through our tired hearts,


what would we find? The problem of the pigs

began on a boat. The colonizer


told the wild hog the loveliness of taking,

of digging into the dirt with her snout, rooting up


all she wants. And the sow remembered

through her own heart about hunger. Her appetite


streamed into fourteen mouths sucking at her teats,

into writhing bodies she would nudge off, snorting


go now, eat. Run in a pack and trample

what you please. Eat every flowering thing.

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