The Workout

Each autumn, in the time-honored tradition,

Helen breaks a switch from

the dusky heart of an olive tree

and trots her sows down

the furrows. It is trotting,

not lounging, that makes

prime porker poundage,

that stirs the blood and

flushes the blackbirds out

of the vineyards, that beats

the deep drum of the earth

with hard, pointed toes,

quickening the pulse.

And it is trotting

that renders the ladies lean

and marketable. A fly

warbles into the soft

flap of a sow's ear:

The mad pigs of Sarlat
ran amok at the fair,
drank all the wine, trampled
the poor auctioneer, tra-la...

But Helen slaps their rumps,

charging them up one row,

down another, until they are

winded and smiling.

The sun stands high

above, and their shadows

unfurl behind them

like crisp blue ribbons.