Steer Flees Slaughter and is Last Seen Going Thataway

Jennifer O’Grady

They must have felt at leasta splinter of regretthat drowsy morning, one split secondcollapsing open like a slit throatwhen they realized what they’d done—the steel door slammed back,the stall that should have restrained himstrangely unlocked and gaping.Or a moment of reproachwhen the tire sankand the missing jack was back in the truckwhere he stood, absorbingthe migrants’ criesbeyond the slaughterhouse walls.Was there an instantwhen they could almost taste him—Bolognese simmeringin its lidded pot, pattiesclenched between toasted bunsor red flesh sliced thin and salted?There was a moment when,despite themselves, they made no moveto stop him but stoodthe way one stands in a sudden rain:furious at first, then surrenderingto the lawless, spreading warmth of it,the extravagance of its force.Let’s say they savoredtheir last, swift vision:two sleek tapering pennants of bonesevering air and pointing uptoward a brightening sky, that wild expansewhere a world of limitlessness begins,and the ungovernable light.

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Jennifer  O’Grady

Jennifer O’Grady is a poet and playwright. Her first collection of poetry, White, won the Mid-List Press First Series Award for Poetry and a Greenwall grant from The Academy of American Poets. She is also the recipient of a W.K. Rose Fellowship, a Billee Murray Denny Poetry Award, and Pushcart Prize nominations, among other honors. Her plays have won the Henley Rose Award, the NEWvember New Plays Festival and the Manhattan Theatre Works NewBorn Festival competitions.

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Asheville, North Carolina

“… between O’Grady’s assured and subtly measured lines lurk dangers and ‘damages that may not be covered.’ … [She] views seemingly benign moments … with a keen maternal prescience that exposes them as fraught with foreboding. Moving edgily from catastrophe to the mysteriousness of love itself, O’Grady shows how to bear the unknowable.”
—Jeanne Marie Beaumont

“… conjures the sort of dream world that follows you after you’re awake.… numinous, recounting desire and its cost from some inevitable Purgatory.… carefully wrought sonic texture, the range of styles from prose poem to lyric, narrative to alliterative abecedarian induces an orchestral intensity. This is a book that refuses to go away.”
—John Hoppenthaler

“Always lyrically animated, the clear often-elegiac note struck in these poems signals O’Grady’s wakefulness to the shifting light and shade of things. Here is a natural world brought to attention by the unsparing intensity of the poet’s gaze.… sharp-sighted, probing and pondering the ordinary adventure of life and its extraordinary hunger for what is to be loved, what is to survive.”
—Eamon Grennan

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