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A Sharper Knife Needed

In the "Cult of Escapism": A Sharper Knife Needed

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Sharper Knife Needed

I killed a chicken today.

New, aspiring volunteers visited Laura last week, so she bought a chicken and enlisted a friend in the community to help prepare and cook it. I tagged along. When we arrived, one of the kids took the chicken and tied its leg to a tree. It shifted nervously, dodging on-coming humans and tangling itself in the rope. Maybe it’s smarter than we give it credit for.

The Four Ignorant Gringos stood fidgeting, not sure whether to be excited or nervous. Lorena, our to-be cook, sensed our nerves and teased us, suggesting that Laura make the kill. She adamantly shook her head and Lorena looked at me; I said I would. She laughed and I laughed but I was more nervous than amused.

I imagined myself gripping the head in my left hand and skillfully slitting the throat with my right, killing the chicken instantly and without pain. Lorena handed me the knife and I pressed my thumb to the blade. Dull. My aspirations of a one slash kill faded with that touch and I knew I would be sawing.

They tied the legs and hung the chicken from a branch. It hung straight down, swaying and swiveling its head. Even a brain that tiny knows that is a bad situation. Lorena mimed what I was meant to do and I approached the chicken and grabbed its head.

It struggled, shaking its body and trying to shake its head but I gripped it tighter and waited for ominous music to start playing but there wasn’t any so I pressed the hilt of the knife to the throat and slit as hard as I could. No blood. I slashed three more times, hard, and the neck dislocated and the blood poured out, rushing at first, then trickling. I stepped back, my right hand shaking with adrenaline and my left hot and sticky and red with blood.

The chicken began shaking violently and I hoped this was what always happened but after a minute, Lorena said it was still alive and feeling guilty and determined I grabbed the head again and sawed the neck until the body stopped moving and Lorena said I could stop. The body hung straight until the middle of the neck, which stuck out at an angle and yawned and the eyes were closed and the body swayed but was otherwise still.

I wouldn’t say it was fun, but not traumatizing either. I’ve been invited to kill a cow in the near future – hopefully we use a sharper knife.


At February 9, 2011 at 4:08 AM , Blogger Aunt Martha Mary said...

This is a great post, but missing an important detail. Did you eat some of the chicken and did the "gringos" eat some as well?

At November 26, 2012 at 11:16 AM , Blogger bama said...

My grandmother used to ring their necks. I never saw this, but my mother described to to me. Just hold the head and spin the chicken. Maybe better than a dull knife?


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