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a home of bones and charnal dust

Picture by Richard Avedon: Blue Cloud Wright, Slaughterhouse Worker.

The cooking shed at three a.m. has the reek of a cold charnel house, it is a home of bones and settled dust, and piled up in this cavernous room is a mountain of hessian bags holding the processed remains of a month’s waste from the killing floors. Every head and hoof, all the intestines and damaged hides, the boning room waste, whole animals too diseased to be used – beasts delivered to the plant be killed and dismembered.

Road kill, cattle with bovine tuberculosis, dozens of pigs with diamond skin disease, calves born dead with their rotted and ropeblack umbilicals still attached.

Trailers standing by in the hot yards heavily aload with their dead.

Arks of the discarded.

All cooked down here in this room, centrifuged to extract the tallow, and then milled into a coarse and greasy meal, like buttered sand.

Then bagged and stacked.

Blood has been piped away from the killing floor into corrugated tanks which are boiled down overnight to a ruby coloured powder finer than talcum, a putrid dust pungent with a heavy rot that invades every pore, every orifice, every opening and breathing vent. A semi permanent festering stink that stays in the body for days and exudes itself again and again in the heat of any movement.

Byron Bay locals smelt that way, we would so easily clear our path.

The high rafters of the cooking room hide platoons of giant rats; sleek, fat, black and fed to bursting from their nightly foraging from the split edges of the bags that we levered out of the stack and lifted onto our shoulders and carried up the gangplank and onto the carriageway and then into the waiting rail wagon like a line of native silver baggers rising bent and heavy laden with other mens’ fortunes from an unmapped mine entrance in some wilderness known only to greed.

The seams of the bags all rotted and eaten out and the wretched spillage doused our bodies and heads as we transported the five hundred of them into the dark corners of the wagon and dropped them there one this way and the other one that.

We breathed in the rotted dust and bloodflour into our lungs and had it rubbed it into our pores, small black leakages wept from the corners of our eyes and we spat animal blood and we worked without ceasing until the carriage held its complement of one thousand bags and when the doors were finally slammed shut and sealed with lead stamped pendulum locks we all stood there stinking wordless and we were done.

We were done

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. I heart this post very much.

    In fact, the third time I read this post, I did so in my best Charlie Sheen voice.


    March 16, 2011
  2. it’s the BLOOD isn’t it old soldier – that stuff brings out the best in people

    March 16, 2011
  3. ‘Arks of the discarded’…

    …and too much more to mention.

    November 14, 2011

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