Enoshima Island Refuge
Leaping rocks over incoming tide
I swerved the splashing ocean
Exploring the pristine island at fifteen
Crabs and fish overflowed tidal pools
Fujiyama’s snow peaked cone pierced blue sky
Giant Tombe hawks squawked and dove
Surf pounded caves under high sea cliffs
Hiking through verdant pathways
The shrine of Benzaiten playing lute appeared
Nude, milk-white, half-crossed legged
Sea Goddess revealed graphic genitals.
Shoguns and public prayed to her for success
Ancient Enoshima was sacred
In one decade cars drove on two bridges
Horns honked and exhaust fumes choked
Escalators snaked to slick viewing tower
Shrill souvenir shops thrived
Pop music blared and tobacco smoke wafted
At the rapture of the sanctuary's subtle secret
Nature is resilient
One of my classmates in the sixth grade at Clissold elementary School in Morgan Park, Illinois named Nathan Swift, had a father who owned one of the largest meat packing companies, known as Swift & Company, in downtown Chicago. His father arranged for us to take a bus to visit his Stock Yards where they packed beef and pork for distribution.
We arrived at the beef portion of the stockyards that had a rank odor that permeated me so badly I could hardly stand it. The guide took us to a place where we watched the workers coax the cattle to move down a series of fences to a narrow opening with a gate. A man opened the gate as one large specimen arrived and the workers pushed him to another area. A man wearing a large black rubber apron holding a large club smacked each unsuspecting cattle on the head as they approached. This caused the animal to wail an awful sound of pain, then reel and fall in a heap. They quickly threw ropes around the wounded beast and a truck dragged the stunned brute to an area out of our sight in a warehouse. There they sliced the carcass for meat to put in a freezer. This process was bloody, disgusting, smelly, and cruel.
After an hour our guide directed us to another part of the stockyards where they made pigs ready for market. At this location, I saw hundreds of large pigs that squealed and snorted in a huge pen surrounded by a wooden fence. At a signal, a gate opened and one by one they herded them to walk toward an escalator that rose gradually from the ground to a spot outside a large enclosed building. As the first pig reached a certain spot on the escalator, some mechanism caught the pig’s feet and hoisted the animal in the air. The pig’s head faced down and chains held up his feet on a moving line that went up to the entrance of the large building next to this device.
After each pig disappeared another came behind after the device hoisted that pig up about twenty feet behind the first one. The guide told us, “Go into the building to see how we prepare the pigs for market.” We walked into this building and noticed a large vat with steam coming from its top. A large pig dangled above this vat on the line upside down. Then automatically the hoist released the pig that descended into a vat of boiling water. When the pig hit the scalding liquid, it gave out a blood-curdling squeal. One child asked, “What just happened to the pig?”
The guide said, “We are making the pig ready for cutting into various pork meals like bacon, hot dogs, pork loin, and sausage that you and your family can find in the market.” I thought the building was a torture chamber and felt sorry for the pigs. The entire procedure revolted me. The scene, the horrible smells, the noise of torture, pain, and death, nauseated me so much I wanted to leave as soon as possible from the nightmare. It was worse than I could ever have imagined. Why would any teacher allow us to watch such gross abuse of these animals? Guessing these tours were how Swift & Company tried to market its products to the public, I couldn’t wait to get on the bus, return to school, and leave the bloody scene of torture and death. The images I had seen were hard to remove from my mind on the bus, at home, and especially in bed trying to sleep.