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Richard St. John: Abhorrent Things

You shall not eat any abhorrent thing….of those that chew the cud or have the hoof cleft you shall not eat these: the camel, the hare, and the rock badger, because they chew the cud but do not divide the hoof; they are unclean for you. And the pig, because it divides the hoof but does not chew the cud, is unclean for you. You shall not eat their meat, and you shall not touch their carcasses.                                                                                 Deuteronomy 14:3-8



There’s the pig, of course,

with its cloven hoof

and its failure

to ruminate, eating the slops

but not reconsidering –

over and over –

insufficiently Talmudic.


Why, though, the camel?

Bearer of so many burdens,

considering as he walks.


And the hare:

thinking and thinking

as it nibbles the pale grass?


But my heart goes out

to the rock badger.

Fierce in its independent

ruminations.  It was a badger,

I think, we struck on I-80 –

no – grazed, dazed.  We watched

it lumber into the swale,

then up and off.


We never saw it again.

Maybe it lived

a long, abhorrent life

among the roots and shaley rocks

of northern Pennsylvania.


Maybe God, too, reconsidered

and, at last, as shadows

lengthened into dusk,

gathered the forbidden carcass

into the open, cloven

parting of his arms.


Each Perfected Name (Truman State). Copyright 2015 Richard St. John.

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This entry was posted on October 23, 2017 by in Environmentalism, Health and Nutrition, Opinion Leaders, Poetry and tagged , , , .

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