mother next door

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It’s 5am, I hear her crying. Wailing for her baby to come home. My heart drops into my stomach. Over and over and over again.

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I grew up south of here around orchards. Apples, pears, cherries and peaches. Almost all the trees are gone, chewed up into mulch and replaced with grapes for wine.

IMG_24218 years ago I heard the cows next door wailing. I said “What’s going on?” and the wardrobe mistress said “Oh, it’s when they take the babies away. It’ll go on for days.” Nothing more. The male babies are shipped off, hung upside down and have their throats slit, bled out to become veal meat. The females are kept but wear plastic nose rings to wean them from their mothers teat. They are impregnated again and again to keep producing milk until they are spent with exhaustion and disposed of.

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8pm, I am walking back to the cabin and hear her still crying out, worn, hoarse, tired. I cry walking through the field. Cry her pain. Cry that we think this is okay.

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