Over the summer I watched a rooster die. He hung by his ankles in a tree with his dinosaur claws, and my ex-husband slit his throat with a knife. The knife looked bigger in the sunlight. And my jaw dropped open when the blood flowed out like cherry paint into the grass. It splattered my friend’s glasses. I couldn’t control the shaking I was doing. There were three of us there and we had killed something. I didn’t save the feathers like I said I would.
My ex-husband made coq au vin, and we all said it was the most delicious ever – because it was – but I could taste everything in that first forkful. The afternoon heat was there, soupy, the metallic smell of compacted dirt, the dog that barked continuously through the fence. The silk fingers of the rooster’s feather when I stroked his neck. That was all in the first bite. In the second, I could finally taste the wine and mushrooms. We ate it all.
You should do this. You should allow yourself the natural fear and embarrassment of looking an animal in the eye and taking all its life so you can pair its parts with a Pinot Noir and serve it over rice. Your plate = death. It’s ok. It’s how our planet works. It’s how we are made. You can tell by our teeth that it’s ok. But you should know. Your tongue should have to taste it right along with the seasoning.
One woman who knows – knows much deeper than I do with my little backyard butcher experiment – is animal advocate and author Jenny Brown. With her new book in hand, The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals, Brown will bring her activism and her story to Carmichael’s Bookstore tomorrow, Friday, January 25th, for a special event raising awareness against abuses in commercial agriculture.
With her background in film and television, Jenny Brown was first introduced to the cruelties of commercial farming while working undercover on an operation in Texas. Appalled by the industrialized practices of the stockyards, Brown dedicated her life to farm animal advocacy, co-founding the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in Woodstock, NY where she is currently serving as director. With the release of her new book, The Lucky Ones, this past August, Brown relates the path that lead her to animal rights, and highlights some of the special survivors – Kaylie the fugitive slaughterhouse cow, Albie the three-legged goat (yup) – that have left their mark on her work and her heart. Brown’s even will begin at 7pm at the Frankfort Avenue store; copies of The Lucky Ones are available in hardcover for $26.00.
It’s been plenty of months and seasons since my friend’s rooster died in the backyard. I can say with ease – all things considered – that this rooster died in a different world. And roosters die every day. It’s practically explosive how big the imbroglio of daily life and death happens to be on Earth. But I remember with perfect and utter clarity how that rooster became French stew in the summer. I remember the dining room was moody because our chandelier was still busted, and we ate in brassy window light. We played Frank Sinatra. We ate so much because our rooster was the most delicious ever, and we were more thankful than Thanksgiving.
Carmichael’s Bookstore has two area locations: 1295 Bardstown Road and 2720 Frankfort Avenue. For more information, visit the event page  or call the Frankfort Avenue store at (502) 896-6950.
Image: Courtesy of Carmichael’s Bookstore website www.carmichaelsbookstore.com