The Morning

by Craig Cochran

God, the air smells raw,
reeking like a tumor

that tightens against the throat.
A dread that can’t be explained

swells inside my chest, pressing
against my ribs with every heartbeat.

No talking at breakfast, not even
the idle chit chat about the first frost

and how this winter would surely
be a killer. Just last night I’d been

out beyond the barn, spreading
the rinds and scraps in the long

wooden trough on the other side
of the fence. I turn and see these births,

the ones we restored from sickness,
and the little fella I nursed with a bottle

because his mama wouldn’t take him.
Face to face with this, I know

I’ve left myself behind, these eyes
aren’t even my own, disconnected

from my inner self. I drink it in and
feel the poison, the first screams of terror

on the morning we kill my pigs.

Craig Cochran is the author of six books of nonfiction, and has degrees from Georgia Tech and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He writes poetry in Kennesaw, GA.