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.