Three Portraits of a Sow by Kip Knott

Three Portraits of a Sow

      . . . . if you get to know pigs, they’re very moody.
      They’re not sweet little animals at all. That’s what
      I like about them. They get depressed . . . .
      — Jamie Wyeth

I. Portrait of Pig

Her teats dangle,
flaccid and empty.

Her corkscrew tail
has come unwound.

The eye we see remains
screwed shut tight

as bristly fur and hay
needle her skin.

Withered cobs
at her feet bear

no sign of a mother’s
appetite or desire

now that her suckling
litter is off to slaughter.

II. Night Pigs

The cockerel will wait
until sunrise
to crow its condolences.

There’s nothing more
for the boar to do
tonight but sleep.

They leave the sow
to sit litterless
in golden lamplight

beneath her own growing
shadow blackening
the wall above them all.

III. Winter Pig

She knows what can be
found at the heart

of a whiteout because she stares
into one kind of abyss

or another with every sunrise.
She knows the cold, too,

the way its emptiness
stings like frostbite

in the wind that blows
across her empty teats.

And she knows
just four hoof-steps

over the splintered threshold
will deliver her into

a world of her own making
at a time of her own choosing.


Kip Knott’s debut full-length book of poetry, Tragedy, Ecstasy, Doom, and so on, is currently available from Kelsay Books. His second full-length book of poetry, Clean Coal Burn, is forthcoming later in 2021, also from Kelsay Books. He lives in Delaware, Ohio, with his wife and son, four cats, one dog, and a Chilean rose hair tarantula. More of his work may be accessed at