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first published in Mouth Ogres, (ed Hugh Dunkerley, Dave Swann),

2001, Oxmarket Press.  ISBN 0 9540981 0 2


Squeeze Chute


My auntís cattle donít know

why they are hooshed on the truck

bellowing and rolling their eyes.

Their long lashes brush the slats.

They are bewildered.

When I was small I bellowed,

threw bottles, ash trays.

The fog horn on the Nantucket ferry

was an assault to my ears.

Bursts of laughter suspended me

in computations of guesswork.

For example, an outing, the circus:

two men with red mouths

spill water, crash heads with a ladder.

Surrounding me, rings of spectators

roar all at once at some signal.

White terror.  I hear my motherís voice

explaining clowns.


The killing of cattle is quick and humane.

Endorphins dull the pain of sudden wounding.

At Aunt Annís ranch I saw the squeeze chute.

It held a calf in place for branding:

an inflatable tube wraps the animal securely.

Firm holding is not normal for cattle.

Aunt Ann let me climb in the chute.

I stayed still, was held

on all sides by the pressure.

This is how my motherís cloth and body

which used to pull me close, was meant to soothe me.

The school psychiatrist says:

ĎDo we think weíre a cow or something?í

Is he crazy or something?

I am making a squeeze chute

to keep by my bed,  for daily use,

of a size to contain a woman.



 (After reading the autobiography:  ĎEmergence, labelled Autisticí by Temple Grandin)



Melanie Penycate


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