The Manhattan Review
The Manhattan Review
Established 1980

Archive > Vol. 4 no. 2


Penelope Shuttle

Killiow Pigs


Five adolescent suckling pigs
fanned out alongside their sleeping mama;
each daughter big as an alsatian dog,
her five petticoat—pink starch—skinned girls.
They sleep with resolution and vitality.
Our admiration does not wake them.
Fed on apples, their flesh is ready-seasoned.
This afternoon heap of pig breathes a clean dusk
into the air; spring and dung,
rhododendrons, sour vapor of swill and straw.
With their sexy squiggle tails,
their ears soft as cats but big and lopped-over
like ambitious rabbits, with their long carefree
strokeable backs, their feet comic and smooth,
snouts succulent,
these sisters lie outspread, five cordial orchids
against mother's blushing pungent bulk,
dreaming of orchards
where an exiled male roots and roams,
his boar thighs tough and angelic,
his head lowered to the cool brisk echoes of morning,
his ringed nose a gleam of gravity,
his sudden stillness all swinish magnetism.
Dossing mother and daughters quiver in sleep,
the juice of desire lolloping over their lips; 
snouts swell with love; tails uncurl, grow fine
and tender as silk;
each meets her orchard lover,
dreamy pigs in their matrilineal slumber.

As we watch these females, hope and desire
rise in us, a cloud of matrimonial heat,
blossoming and getting the better of us,
oh these shameless porcine arrangers of marriages!