A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

14 December 2006


Lori's Book Nook fronts today with an Al Purdy poem, which includes images and memories of working with the fat brown sacks of animal blood that are used in so many sectors of modern life.

In a previous lifetime I picked up a flat-deck load of dried animal blood from a plant in Stockton, Ca. The bags billowed red dust.

I unloaded it at a Prince George plywood plant, and the dust, exposed to rain that winkled its way under my tarp, had turned to blood again. It was slippery and dangerous.

But what I'll never forget was the smell of that place. It was an enormous concrete building in the middle of a barren brown field. There was one employee, and I wandered the building trying to find him, staring at the grey sky through unglazed windows high in the wall. I felt like some last survivor, every caveman instinct shrieking at me to get out of this deathplace.

The smell of blood could never be scrubbed out of that artificial stone. If the plant closed down it would have to be razed, knocked down, and ground into powder before the shrecklicheit and the cursed feeling left it.

Humans are fairly accepting of blood. Less so of the psychic taint that accompanies massacre. Perhaps that's why we close places down or alter them after violence takes lives in those places.

We preserve them sometimes, as memorials. The words "never forget (this)" are engraved on tablets in places with names like Berlin, Auschwitz, Srebenica, Calcutta, Montreal, San Ysidro, Dunblane, Hungerford and Port Arthur.

Maybe that's why nothing has been erected at the former World Trade Center sites. Because what it comes down to, really, is that we can't stand the smell of blood.


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