Death, disgust and degradation (and chickens)

We learn, from an early age, what to love  
And, almost as soon, decide what we loathe.  
Other likes and dislikes accumulate  
With time, giving the opportunity  
To luxuriate both in prejudice  
And, occasionally, in good judgement.  
I abhor chicken- absurdly  
For a sporadic, sometime carnivore.  
What disturbs about this childhood fancy  
Is the source of such anathema.  
Is it death, disgust or degradation  
I still do not know which of the three.  
Around the age of ten, when chicken was  
A luxury dish (though large roasting joints  
Of beef or lamb were the staple weekend fare),  
My mother would send me to the farm  
Nearby to buy a chicken with very  
Strict orders to choose only perfection.  
The farmer's son, inviting my inspection  
Of a fine brood in a spacious shed,  
Asked my choice. Heeding the maternal  
Injunction, I picked the haughtiest bird,  
The leader of the pack. Regret ensued  
From the moment he had wrung its neck.  
Dead chicken, warm under my arm, failing  
To stop the wings still flapping- the death throes  
Of hens- I felt a murderer and worse  
A regicide. I had just ordered  
The death of the finest bird. My walk back  
Was dismal, sullied, remorseful.  
Guilt at slaughter changed to disgust at home.  
My task was to remove all the feathers,  
So spiky against my oiled fingers,  
Then rubbing on slimy flesh- revulsion  
At multiple tactile sensations, though  
Differing, each reinforcing distaste.  
When I'd finished, my mother extended  
The assault to senses of smell and sight.  
She poked and shuffled inside the chicken-  
Olfactory onslaught through faecal fumes.  
The sight alarmed as seeming similar  
Putrid bits went for soup or to the bin.  
Did she really know what she was doing?  
Could she ever dream I would eat that muck?  
Mass production and food technology  
Saved me. Cheap chicken in the shops, fresh and  
Frozen, ended my murderous farm visits.  
When I did return, the farmer beaming  
Showed me his new battery hens  
Assuming I would be so impressed.  
Miserable, dejected birds, with feathers  
Missing. Solitary in tiny cages,  
No scheme of life but to eat, shit, lay, die.  
How could my proud, inquisitive chickens  
Be degraded heartlessly, Earlier  
Murder seemed humane in comparison.  
Does anyone really expect me to eat  
Such unhappy creatures? I never will.  
How do we choose in important matters  
When abstention is hardly an option-  
Partners or jobs or places where to live?  
Close our eyes? Hold our noses? And admit  
We do no more than just hope for the best.
Written by marthard
Published | Edited 4th Jan 2014
All writing remains the property of the author. Don't use it for any purpose without their permission.
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