by Joyelle McSweeney on Oct.31, 2011
[What follows is prose and photographs by Kristen Stone, an artist who locates her work in the genre of queeragripoetics. Visit her tumblr here; Kristen’s text and images below]
1. The heat rises in wet slaps off the crumpled pavement. The cow was dead by the side of the road.. The camera(phone) allows a digital empathy I could not feel crouching at the asphalt edge by a carcass becoming foul.
2. Moving the chicken nursery one was crushed under the house. Dangerous architecture. We laid her body, still limp, in the forest under a pile of Spanish moss.
3. Sometimes they just die. The placenta partially absorbs them, but after the mama passes the afterbirth I pick through it. These I keep because the kids like to look at them. It’s educational.
4. maureen has blood on her hands and i think about kissing her. it’s a hot beautiful september day, the sharp blue sky and shimmering green.brown of dirt and grass. when the bodies are laid out on the table and we are cutting around the asshole she will bust the intestine by accident and have shit on her hands.the bad smell of yellow-brown waste. // he looks up at us, raises his head. this is not the random discharge of the nervous system, the spastic flapping. but intentional. can a chicken have intention? he’s not dead. he does not want to, but knows he will. maureen cuts again and this time the blood rushes out in a fine red arc. jasmine’s favorite part is plucking, hanging the limp body in hot water, the animal smell the feathers release, pulling out in handfuls the small furry ones from the breast and under the wings. individually the long ones from the ends of the wings and tail.
As a child, I wanted to live Little House on the Prairie. Now, I am part of the new agrarian/young farmer movement which is committed to localizing and liberating food systems, the ethical treatment of animals, and knowing the origin story of food. Far from the clean sweep of the prairie as described by Laura Ingalls, (the false emptiness) (the political and economic forces behind the “opening of the West”), my actual rural experiences have been contingent, ethically fraught, uncertain, queer, disturbing, gross—assemblages of people and animals touching in unexpected, sometimes excessive, ways. shit and piles of blue-gray viscera; genderqueer goat behavior; the always-contested decisions about who eats what (whom), who dies.