In a Time of Foot and Mouth Disease

by David Donaldson

Easter Sunday and the plague is here.
The acrid stench of the remedy
Hangs in the air; the night skies
Are lit with it; the animals

Burning. Trenches gashed in the pasture
A hundred yards long, piled with sticks
Of railway sleepers and tons of coal.
They signal to each other across

The miles, these pathetic pyres,
Like the hilltop beacons of old
Giving warning. Only now
It is too late, for the enemy

Invaded long ago: no virus either,
But a conquering state of mind,
Overseeing the earth in its fullness
Up for sale and levelled flat; bound

Or caged in commercial calculations
Down to every last ounce and inch:
Animals as units of production,
Meat machines, statistic-driven

In service of the only free,
Unlimited immeasurable:
Our material needs! And so it is
Expedient that the animals

Light up the night skies. They are
As dispensable as the farmers
Living relation to the land, as tracts
Of virgin wilderness, as rainforests.

For these fires warn: there is more
And worse to come from a ruling
State of mind which measures only
The surface of things, and denies

The living being of the World!

David Donaldson.
Orcop, Hereford, Easter 2001