He Honors His Father
By Anonymous
An Animal Rights Poem from All-Creatures.org

All of God's creatures have rights, a fact that most people don't seem to recognize. This includes both human and non-human animals, but not all of them can speak for themselves.

He Honors His Father
By Anonymous

Dedicated to Jason, who at a very young age, in farm country and never having heard of vegetarianism, refused to ever eat meat again when he was told where it came from after losing his treasured calf to the slaughterhouse.
This poem may be reprinted at any time by anyone, without permission.

Remember our times under the aging apple, Pop, 
When you were out cutting hay 
And Ma would send me up with your lunch? 
How all the cows would lie with us under that dying tree 
Whose fewer leaves each year provided less and less shade 
But all the comforts of familiarity? 
I remember the year you decided that Strawberry 
Wasn't earning her keep anymore; 
How, when the truck came to take her, 
You had to pry me from her neck, 
How she called to us as they drove away.

You explained to me then about slaughterhouses and profits, 
And how the fact that Strawberry had spent her whole life giving us all the milk she could 
Had no bearing in the ledger book; 
How slaughterhouses were never meant to be cruel 
But only turned out that way 
Because making a profit requires expediency.

You thought you had to be rock hard, Pop, 
To help me face the world; 
You made me stand like a man 
And accept reality.

I just didn't want it to be so violent; 
If Strawberry had to die, 
I wanted her to lie down one day 
Under the old apple, 
To lay her head on the grass beside us 
And not wake up. 
But you told me to accept the world as it was.

A lot of years later, 
In a hospital after your heart attack, 
A doctor told me you were feeling well enough 
To have a little ice cream, 
And I thought to myself 
That you were in another kind of slaughterhouse; 
But I accepted the world as it was.

You hadn't been home long 
When your heart attacked you again, 
Ma woke us all and we gathered around your bed. 
I wanted to sit with you quietly, 
But the ambulance crew pushed through and took you, 
Laid you on the floor in a circle of machines and men in blue on their knees, 
Pounding you hard on the chest.

If you had to die. Pop, 
I didn't want it to be so violent 
Or so soon. 
You never got to meet my friend Angie 
Or hear her ideas about veganism; 
Would you have wanted to hear?

I stood like a man 
When the undertaker came to take you, 
And I accepted your reality. 
But later Angie and I planted a young apple 
over your fresh grave, 
and vowed that for the family we were planning, 
We'd create a new reality.
The author was a pre-vet student, but dropped out of school the week before having to watch the upperclassmen practice on living animals. Most of her poems are auto-biographical.

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