What to Bury in the Pet's Grave

Because I eat meat
I'm embarrassed to ask
how I might speak of the
preciousness of an animal.

We meat-eaters build empires
and republics upon social contracts
that stipulate how children come first,
and after children mothers and lovers,
then friends, countrymen, then
strangers, soldiers, great apes
and opposition party members.

We bought my uncle twelve years
by having a man slay a pig, and
harvest the valve from its heart.
Before all that, I did not know
technology would make this

Neither did Pericles, nor Cato
the Elder. It could just as well
have been a Carthaginian slave.

Upon such notions humanity
scorches and salts the earth.

—Roy Scarbrough