Jane Graham George’s “Swine Judging, Dakota County Fair”

Jane Graham George was born in 1951 in Fort Benning, Georgia. She and her twin sister Molly both studied English at the University of Minnesota. Molly went on to become a visual artist, while Jane got a degree in Library Science and pursued poetry. Her years working as a librarian in Minnesota inspired her book of poetry Library Land.

Swine Judging

Dakota County Fair

Plaid-shirt farmboys with bale-strong

arms leaning on the metal corrals,

grandmas, other pigs and handlers,

all watch breathlessly as a small

teen-aged girl and her black, white-

belted pig stand waiting for the judge

who speaks as though he hails

from one of the finest salons

in Europe, literary, I mean,

as if awarding the Prix Goncourt,

enunciating each honeyed word.

“Folks, this young lady does not poke or prod,

is at one with her charming Hampshire hog.

4-H or not, this is equanimity.”

Though she really does look like Athena,

it isn’t quite like hitting a home run

or sinking a putt from an improbable distance

which is why, once the judge awards the blue ribbon,

there’s no arm pumping, no prom-spinning in place.

Something about a hog does bring you right back to earth.

– “Swine Judging, Dakota County Fair” by Jane Graham George, as it appears in her collection Library Land published by Red Dragonfly Press. Reprinted here with permission from the publisher.

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