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Sport 25: Spring 2000

Sarah Day — Lex Talionis

page 120

Sarah Day

Lex Talionis

an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth

(with acknowledgements to E.P. Evans' The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals)

Select genes for introversion.
Say the god of pigs heard this,
flicking on a radio switch at midday
with a nonchalant trotter. And this,
…the problem with extroverts
is that they want to talk to their mates.
Introverts get on with the business of eating.

Say the god of pigs, looking down
takes in the scene—
a city of porkers, roughly twenty thousand,
flank to flank, mesh floors, walls,
standing room only
a neighbour for each eye.

The ǵod of pigs measures this
against the voice on the radio
still worrying about the talking porker
burning calories.
(Think of the pink salt slivers
cradling a scrambled egg;
think of the plump extrovert.)

page 121

How do you plead?
the pig attorney might inquire
peering down his snout
as the courts of ancient Greece
once cross-questioned killer's swords,
runaway carts, the recalcitrant bust
that pitched, one clear day
from its pedestal and maimed a man.

Blame the vehicle, not the driver,
the weapon, not the hand that wields.
How do you plead?
beasts at trial were asked
not twenty generations back
of sundry crimes and misdemeanours.

What did those piggy eyes perceive
from the bar as sentences were handed down
in the name of justice and reason?
Pigs had the run of the medieval roost
St Anthony saw to that.
Nosing open doors
and beds where sleeping infants lay;
what airs did those nostrils wetly admit
rooting and drivelling curiously
in the courts? Did they savour the sop
of the vocabulary of punishment?

A pig in a suit whipped at a post
pigs hung at the gallows green.

page 122

Better a wicked pig
than an aimless God
in a random universe.

The sow that ate the child
swivelling on a noose
felt hat cocked over one eye,
spelt order. Collars were turned
to the ill winds that blew in
from the edge of decipherable darkness.

Say the god of pigs, leaning forward
to sift through static
imagines the peaks and dips of the decibel graph,
non-squealers for bigger pigs
and better returns says the voice on the radio.
Leaning back in an office chair
the god of pigs contemplates the fleshy silence.