We took a trip to see the cows who were being taken to slaughter at the slaughterhouse in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We found many new holding areas around the slaughterhouse, and learned that 400-500 cows were killed there each night. I saw this old bike and trailer and witnessed a cow with ‘N’ painted on her, being roughly treated and loaded onto it. When looking back at the pictures, I felt I should write this up differently, so here is The Trailer a poem about a Cow called N.
The trailer pulled up and the dust settled down, revealing the metal; rusted, blue, brown. The rider dismounted, switched off the motor, before walking to get his evenings cow quota. They were tied to a lamp post, with string through their nose. How much this hurt them, I can only suppose. Three would fit, if packed closely together, held in position by their rough awkward tether.
A brown one went first, with little resistance, encouraged I’m sure by the cords sharp persistence. Second was white, with a fear in her eyes, perhaps for her, her fate no surprise. N was less easy, not keen to assist, but had to give in after tug, drag, and twist. She dropped to her knees, attempted to flee, but her freedom was gone; sold to people like me.
Her nose became bloody, it dripped from her lip. If they pulled any harder, she feared it would rip. Defeated she boarded, and stood with her mate, as the rider slammed shut that rusty blue gate. The motor ignited, the trailer sped off, the dust kicked up and she started to cough. Each bump on the road caused her much pain, but nothing compared with when she was slain.
They stopped their last stop, the motor cut out, the rope would soon be removed from N’s snout. But what came before that, was worse by a mile, delivered with ease, by a man with a smile. N was bound tightly, her nose still so sore, in a place with a smell she had smelt once before. N stood alone, tied facing the wall, her legs were so weak, she feared she would fall.
Hours went by, with nothing to drink, she started to sleep but woke with a clink. The man with a smile, walked right by her head, she didn’t know, but soon she’d be dead. He lifted an axe, high into the air, for a moment it stopped and hung just right there. N looked up at it, so bloody and dull, then it swung down hard and cracked open her skull.
She thought it was over, but was still awake, as she watched her blood form a bubbling lake. The knife cut her throat, and she gargled a cry, and all she could see, was the blood in her eye. Thirty seconds later, N was no more, just a lump of warm flesh on a cold concrete floor. Her life had no meaning, or none to be told, she was raised for a profit, just meat to be sold.
By Lee Fox-Smith
The Trailer A Poem About A Cow Called N
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