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I have to tell you, the udders are much tastier than the testicles.  The lumps don’t get bitter and they melt in your mouth. Cut open upon the butcher block, the insides look somewhat mobile, not so compact nor blackened. The women had held in their reactions till the man behind the counter, with his cowboy hat and shirt open to show his chest hair, made a face at my assertion. I think he imposed upon them because in him they could see the goats screwing and screaming with pain, with the scent of sex that blood carries. But he smiled, his eyes deep as wet, rusty holes, and the women burst out laughing at a volume that seems to release another kind of tension. From their laughter to the blow in a word or two. In that moment I imagined the youngest of them wielding the sharp knife crusted with bits of food, raising her dress and, looking at her barefoot offspring on the greasy woven palm mat where the chicharrones were piled, grabbing one of her breasts to slice it like soft dough: look, honey, this is the tit that nursed you when your father was sleeping with your aunt. Take it to the vats so they can fry it. Inside the fritangueros’ lodging the heat shuddered even stronger than outside, where the old men let their heads hang, not far from the dogs that lay as if dead, having sought the same shade. Once there I couldn’t avoid looking for the husband who would toss one of his wife’s breasts into the vat. First, he’d pour in the dense, yellow oil, accumulated in one of the drums on the back patio, and let it boil. When he threw in the milk-filled udders, he wouldn’t know they belonged to a mother impregnated through her wound. Between them, there wasn’t any one face that looked any more cabrón than the rest. They stirred the fritanga in circles with long wooden poles, their arms bursting with blisters. At the end of the day, they’d wash the poles in a basin to unstick the bits of fat that adhered to them, as they did to the walls plastered with lime. The same lime dressed the exterior walls of the ranch, their architectural style from Extremadura adapted by the Mixtec. Their blinding whiteness seemed to be the only element of compassion. Beyond this sight, everything was hanging guts, inhospitable masses of quaking textures, similar to those I would see as I fall asleep. They hung from the wires that fenced off hundreds of raw pelvises, exposed to the sun like a defeated army. Our cruelty, I thought, will wind up making something delicious of you—that’s also why I’m here. To get to know your owners by their palates. To see if they love like they kill. To see if before they lick the pelvic bones they’d turn over the food chewed in another’s mouth, if before gobbling up the pieces of you they remember how you’d urinate as they patrolled you, knives between their teeth and arms outstretched. As I observed the fine capillaries that shone through the tissues, I saw several people head decisively to the main building. In that patio formed by tile-covered corridors, you could bite into the waiting. Old women with their legs stretched out on the floor, their heads seeking spots shielded from the sun, babies sleeping belly-up on blankets, naked torsos lying in the wheelbarrows. All holding in their wails until that door would swing open. Two big squares of land, walled and connected by a fence. Beyond these railings are the trails. One…26…45…70 heads and more, counted by a few men who, grabbing onto each other, were arranged around the gate so that the herd had to jump over their extremities. Their trunks stretched in the air, their gesture of horror. Then they’d crowd into the corners and raise up onto two legs on account of the pushing. You could tell the females from the males by their vaginas—recently torn by giving birth between the mountains and death, by their bouncing udders or their bulky abdomens. You could tell the females by how they looked for a way out while the males continued defecating. The females. They called to their young from the other side of the wall. When the assassins began to reach for their daggers there were still a few maintaining hope of escape. Don’t kill those, I yelled at them, can’t you see they’re looking at the dead with human eyes? Damned spectator, not covering her face when she sees the cut throats drip warm puddles into the sand, when she sees the snouts spitting blood onto the ribs of their brethren. Bodies exhaled their last breath at my feet while I, on my knees, touched the roughness of their hooves. Only a few remained standing when I heard the harrowed and choked howl of a woman. They’d been transferring them to the patio. It was the mothers, the scream of the pregnant goats from the open canal of their wombs, from the placentas torn from them like weeds and busting against the ground. Time for the children to try to save the still tender babies, time for the babies to try to save themselves. Back legs tied, placed face up, a finger cleared their throats so they’d breathe new oxygen. The future generations might still find redemption, even as the floor filled with kid goats choked by amniotic fluid while others finished cooling off. In the same space, decapitated heads were interspersed with buckets of foamy fluid and empty soda bottles. The piles of craniums, shoulder blades and legs were growing. I could hear the skin separated from the meat, the ripping of the ligaments, the noise of the horns against other horns, as if they’d never bawled or observed themselves just before being dismembered. Feet bare, their legs bloody up to their skirts, the women took apart the bodies with a spirit distinct from that of their husbands who seemed to salivate with a savage appetite. An avarice similar to mine when I smelled the necks of the restless kid goats who sought a teat among my fingers, absorbing them right up to the bell. Two, three and even four were hooked onto me, as if they could extract the milk of the dead from my nails. They don’t get fed until they cry, a child told me, running with excitement toward the store carrying a slippery bucket of hearts, kidneys and livers to sell by weight. The most disturbed part of me took comfort in having seen a small child cry inconsolably while those beings that had grazed these fields in prior months were turned into pink pulp. The little ones were not yet able to recognize food with that crystalline gaze they cast over the mats, to distinguish what would later be a delicacy in their mouths. They did not know that their bellies had always been filled with the bellies of others. That in little more than a decade they’d slap their successors to rid them of their pendejadas. What’s more, those tears would dry in their dreams that very night, as their bodies took refuge in those of their mothers, protective dens where their roots intermingle. I had told myself that once they were meat, to eat them was the only thing that made sense. Once soaked in the warmth from its riven gullet, in the bile of its trembling intestines, once sliced and simmered, that serving of meat was the memory of a culture. So I sat at the table with a bowl of intense stew before me, the bones in my hands, tearing the meat with my teeth, sweating with the spicy salsa that traveled like a burning shiver down my esophagus to my guts and then rose to my cheeks, my tear ducts and the nape of my neck. Drops of sweat slid between my breasts, I licked my fingers. As I savored this devotion, I saw a fly in my juice. If it can hold out and swim a little longer, I’ll save it.

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