As a child, I visited slaughterhouses. They lined a street so wide it could have been a boulevard. The asphalt shone with bloody puddles of sunlight. Trucks and cars backed into the curb for easy loading. Drivers loped determinedly in and out of doors, arms full, faces closed.
I always waited in my father’s car. He dealt lunches to factory workers from the deck of his station wagon, then we’d go to market to buy next day’s supplies. Sometimes I’d bring a book to read, so as not to see the blood. Sometimes I’d close my eyes, lean back against the seat, and dream. That the animals sang, that they played and danced in a happy zoo and these men who paced in blood were, like me, merely visitors.
But I always knew that the animals longed to be free. Their singing wounded my heart and I wished that they would one day trample the bloody aprons and dash onto the wide, free street. Oh what a fairy tale this would make!
Of course, they never strayed. They huddled in grand choirs, scraping the senses of all who still heard.
I learned to chant: “Chop! the chicken head. Ping! the pig is dead.”