“The Price of Meat” by Mather Schneider

Mather Schneider


Because of the trucker shortage
my book on Stoic philosophy arrived 3 days late
on the same day they found 50 dead immigrants
in a truck outside San Antonio
I rode my bicycle in the heat to the post office
just like I rode it out of Illinois 40 years ago
all the way to Death Valley
and when I got there
they told me I would die if I tried to ride across
so I caught a lift with a guy in a VW bus to Los Angeles
back when people would do nice things like that
at the post office I opened the metal door
reached in my box and was happy to finally have my book
hoping the Stoics could help me deal with adversity
when I got home my wife was crying
she told me about the dead immigrants found baked in that semi truck
my wife who herself walked across the Mexican border
20 years ago
following a coyote sweating through the creosote
(to this day she will not tell me the details of that journey)
we both watched the news
in our little apartment
where the day before we had been complaining about the heat
and the landlord who won’t fix the cooler
and the price of meat
and how the mail never comes on time anymore
and we didn’t know how to make sense of it
those blistered corpses when the metal door was opened
the blinking eyes of the few left alive
after thousands of miles in that God damned oven
we were both so upset we got into an argument
the fifth argument in so many days
until she went into the bedroom and I turned off the tv
and opened my book by Epictetus
who said it is best to maintain an indifferent attitude
toward things you can’t control
even the death of your own child
is part of the divine law
everything arrives the only way it can
and love and happiness are always right there
for the taking

from Poets Respond
July 5, 2022


Mather Schneider: “I think this poem speaks for itself.” (web)

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