Sometimes I still dream about their pink bodies

floating above my nightstand in jars of formaldehyde.
To calm our nerves the teacher told us these pigs

were never born, but salvaged from pregnant
sows after slaughter. I sliced carefully

with an Exacto-knife, opened the lids of its eyes.
Though I never spoke it, I wanted to

remove its organs and christen them
in the stainless steel sink. There was a girl

in my class who found her newborn sister
facedown in the tub while her mom slept

drunk on the bathroom floor. I wondered
if death was the puddle of water beside her

and life was the spider who passed by.
The teacher asked us to find the pig’s heart,

remove it and place it on the tray. I placed
my fingers inside its body and turned to the boy

next to me who was cutting off the legs of his pig,
one by one, and placing them in a line.

*Kelli Russell Agodon is the author of two books of poems, Small Knots (2004) and Geography, winner of the 2003 Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award. She was born and raised in Seattle and educated at the University of Washington and Pacific Lutheran University. She is the recipient of two Washington State Artist Trust GAP grants, The James Hearst Poetry Prize, and the Carlin Aden Award for formal verse. She recently edited the Poetry Broadside Series: The Making of Peace. Her website is:

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