TAKING HANDS
By Paulette Callen

Sometimes I get to thinking
I’m an ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVIST!
And I get all full of myself,
and I begin to loathe the hunters and despise the trappers
and then I get to thinking
about what Paul Watson said:
that he'd rather take the bloodied hand of an
honest seal hunter than the hand of a hypocrite,
and I get to thinking...

Yes! Give me the hand of the hunter
over the manicured hands of those who
buy the cleaned up, bled, re-christened remains of
poor dead creatures wrapped in cellophane;
give me the weathered hand of the trapper
over the soft, ringed hands of those who
pluck their furs off racks in carpeted department stores
out of sight and sound of the killing and dying
and then I get to thinking...
about the time; it wasn't so long ago,
when I petted my spaniel's head with one hand and
ate my hamburger with the other,
and about the time,
not so very long ago, when I snuggled with
cozy rectitude into the raccoon collar of my car coat.
and I get to thinking...
whose hand can I not take?

Ah! The vivisector's! Lowest of the low,
and I get to thinking... about that biology class,
wherein I held a great luminous green frog
and stroked him till he tranced a froggy trance
right in my hand and I gave him up to the killers
to prepare him dead for Tuesday
when I sliced him to pieces for a B+.
Whose hand can I not take?

Then I think, surely the poachers, those who,
for a few cents, kill the gorilla and cut off his hands for ashtrays.
And what should I do?
Stand before them
armed with my loathing?
Or hold out my hands and say,
"Here, take mine."


Originally published in The Animals Voice Magazine.