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On a Mountain Road in India
A Poem by Ingrid Newkirk - Founder of PETA

On the bend in the mountain road
where the cattle have been dropped
dropped, thrown, dragged from the truck
I kneel in the dirt beside you now,
your horns against my ear.
Your massive cow face in my hands.
I remember the experts said, Watch out!
A single blow from that huge head can
kill a man.
That head weighs as much as your
whole body.
Whatever you do, beware of those horns!

But you have known people all of your life.
Grew up with little boys goading you
down dusty streets.
Sat in the evening in the village
listening to the birds
watching the cooking fires
grateful to the man
who unhitched the yoke
and let you graze.

Your eyes are weeping from the tobacco
and green chili peppers
smeared inside them
by men who thought the burn would
make you stand,
that twisting your tail
until it snapped for the sixth or eighth time
would make you rise.
But a bull with a broken pelvis can t get to his feet.

You let me dig deep
into the corner of your eyes,
searching for the seeds and leaves
through my tears and yours.
You sit patiently while I pour water into the crevices
to flush out the pain.

I leave you and walk away
with the others,
moving through the assembly line
of cattle horrors
throughout the night.

In the afternoon, we return to the mound.
You are sitting in the drizzle
all alone now
looking out over a stunning view
of the Nilgiri Hills.

I kneel beside you.
and tell you that I love you.
For I do,
with all my aching heart.

You must have known
we could never make your body whole again.
You must have known
you could never pull a cart again.
Or plough a field,
or stroll down to the river
to feel the cool water on your velvet skin.

The needle pierces your vein
making you jump
just a little,
trying not to make a fuss,
not bucking or butting,
not turning your horns that crucial inch
that would impale us.

Your eyes close quietly
and you slip away
to dance with Lord Krishna
and play games with Ganesh.

Somewhere, miles away now,
the others walk on still.
Tomorrow they will find themselves in a new hell.
Upside down, their faces in offal,
their eyes screaming,
This can t be happening to me!
We will see their bodies
hanging in the market next week,
hacked into cuts for the table.

And I will think of you every day
looking into my eyes without surprise.

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