Today's poem is by Maria Costantini

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pigs form close bonds. Studies of pigs
say that they are the smartest animals
outside of primates. But, at six or seven,
outside the realm of E.B. White, all she
knew was anguish as she paced
back and forth in her parents' bedroom,
from the small balcony to the large window
that faced an ancient oak tree, winding roots
bulging from the side of a bare cliff,
where she gathered acorns for the piglet
she called Botticello —meaning round
like a barrel
. From there, she couldn't see
the barnyard, but recognized his squeals of terror.

No one knew their secrets. No one had seen
her go down to the stall to let him out; how
the animal would follow her up the narrow incline
of packed dirt to the house, through the front door,
the hallway, to her bedroom armoire
with the full-length mirror, where he loved
to look at himself, grunting with pleasure.
No one saw him obey, Okay now, Botticello,
back to your stall
. Or, how he savored
tiny boiled potatoes in their skins, roasted
chestnuts, and apples.

But, Of the pig nothing goes to waste.
From head to toe, the pig gave its all
to sustain the family in the lean winter months.
She remembered the spicy, seasoned delicacies,
the prosciutti her mother pressed
with abundant salt and pepper, hung
in a friend's cool cellar to dry. Square bars
of laundry soap made from lard and ashes.

Hours passed and everything seemed still
in the late autumn afternoon. With small
careful steps down the incline, she reached
the massive barn-doors painted gray,
spread open, streaked with a watery pink.
She kept her gaze to the ground where
large buckets, grouped close together
on the cement floor, gathered droplets of red.

Copyright © 2008 Maria Costantini All rights reserved
from The MacGuffin
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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