Eating Creatures

Of course, when you are young, you feel things instead of think things. The first poem was how it felt sometimes growing up on the farm, that life was beautiful, but the pain that we caused to the animals we raised was not.  It was written many years ago.

When older, I accepted that most living things eat other living things for nourishment. If you keep animal protein in your diet, the question then becomes one of how we treat the animals who are raised for our nourishment.  The question is about empathy.

The second poem puts that question in a different way.


The Bumpkin Boy

A bumpkin boy, from province bound
From amongst the fair pig sties
Where oft he’d play with cat or hound
Beneath the sovereign skies

A boy who loved to feel the breeze
And listen to its tales
While lying still beneath the trees
Or walking lonely trails

In forests deep an owl’s grey eyes
Would startle wide and stare
But notice not the boy near by
A silent shadow there

In greening fields a cow would raise
Her eyes and see the child
Upon a hill with arms upraised
In genuflection mild

To laughter would the raindrops fall
The weather was as kin
In winter’s snow he’d prance and call
His dog to sport with him

The pain he caused would sorrow him
While forking or with feed
And tears at times his eyes would dim
He’d sing while still he grieved

The animals he killed to live
He’d treat with gentle mien
And beg them to his ways forgive
By their deaths made obscene

“Such horrors here” he’d say “but still
What right have I to quest
These things that make my conscience chill
Are by my fathers blessed”

And back to work he’d turn, intent
On piece of mind; his goal
With every breath he took he meant
To cauterize his soul

A shadow now slept o’er his face
And oftentimes was seen
Still as a tree in thoughtful grace
His eyes bespoke a dream

One day his dream was answered, and
He died while still a boy
His quiet smile and steady hand
His last breath spoke of joy


If sparks of transcendence
in humanity glow
For we need to be more than
the toying cat more
than the fruit-munching ape more
than the grazing beast

Then one bright spark must surely be
with every creature born
a kindred trust
and empathy