On Friday I killed the first of our three fatted hogs in preparation for a friend’s wedding this afternoon. I started early, the sky barely clear of night, the grass dewy-wet, the sound of the gun almost too much for the soft morning air. Wham. The birds silenced mid-song. Everything interrupted.
Maybe it was just the fragile newness of the day, but for a few moments after the act I could do nothing but stand there, watching thick arterial blood drench the thirsty soil, still holding the sticking knife, with that same warm liquid redness spreading down the blade and over the handle and into the creases of my palm, shocked by what I’d done. By what I’m capable of when I decide I’m capable of it.
Soon enough the blood stopped flowing, and the pig’s hind legs ceased their frantic churning, finally accepting the truth. The birds took up singing again. And there was still so much to do and not enough time to do it, but damned if I didn’t just stand there a minute or two more, staring down at what I’d done, not knowing whether to feel sorrow or relief.
Eventually deciding on both.