Bloodlines

9:35 a.m.: There is a live chicken in my kitchen.
Regina has bought it, at our request, and will butcher it and bring the pieces to us. I didn’t think she’d bring it to me before then, though… so now I have the distressing thought of having to eat an animal tomorrow which is clucking softly in a box in my kitchen today.
 

I get attached easily. Whenever a gecko flits into the house, I immediately greet it: “Hi gecko! What’s up?” There was a huge spider, the size of mouse, crouched in a corner near the office door last week, and I named it Pepito and spoke to it whenever I passed it. Most people have little sausage pillows that they stuff in front of the doors to keep out such creatures, but we don’t. I rather like animals of the tropics, even the insects.  

The other night there was a butterfly (or maybe just a colorful moth; I’m no biologist) sitting next to our stairway, right outside the front door. In the high wind, it just clung to the white post, swaying, as though it had been caught out after curfew and had nowhere else to go. Even when I approached it, even when I zoomed the supermacro lens just a few centimeters from it, the creature stayed put, as though waiting for me to take the photo.  

butterfly2.jpg

 

9:48 a.m.: While I am editing the photos of the butterfly,
Regina goes into the kitchen. I hear the chicken scratching and beating its wings and clucking as she takes it from the box. Then I hear a soft whack. Then a lot of wings flapping furiously and scratching frantically, and I think, Jesus, is she killing that chicken right here, in my apartment? Somehow I figured she’d take it outside to cut its head off. But I’m afraid to look, imagining the white tiles of the kitchen splattered across with blood from the headless chicken running around in it. I concentrate on the photos, trying to bring out the color and texture of the butterfly’s wings.
 

9:55 a.m.:
Regina goes out to the porch and gets an empty box from the pile and takes it into the kitchen. I haven’t heard any more chicken sounds. I am still afraid to walk past the kitchen.
 

Hypocrite that I am, I do not want to see the middle part – the stage where it goes from being a bird to being a pile of meat. It’s not like I don’t know how these things happen. I have reported on factory farming and assembly-line butchering, which is why I won’t eat veal and almost never eat beef when in the
US. But I find it hard to be vegetarian. I like pork and chicken, would find it a real trial to give up fish or shrimp, although I cook happily without them and many of my meals are meatless.
 

10:08 a.m.:
Regina shows me the plucked corpse. The kitchen is perfectly clean. It’s kind of a shock to see this naked bird lying there, but it bears no resemblance to the feathered creature that was in the box a few minutes ago. How did she do that? She asks whether I want it cut into pieces, what parts I don’t want, whether she can take the scraps home, and I pantomime my answers.
 

I go downstairs to the office to talk to the staff about the security situation, and a team member offers me a piece of deep-fried tofu. I eat it gratefully. It’s delicious.