My dad bought cattle for the family meat-packing plant on Poydras Street, not far from the River. It’s gone now, Dad, too, and old New Orleans that seeped into my childhood like the ground water mere inches under any surface in the city. I have little boy memories being with him at cattle auctions in weathered Cajun villages: Raceland, Zachary, Mansura. Smell of dung, flies, shrieks of hogs, cowboys with their brims, boots, and chaw. Rows of pick-ups. Rawboned buyers arrayed about the selling pen flicking the price up with near-invisible nods or finger-jiggles. The auctioneer, whose bewildering babble streamed over the static-plagued speaker like an ancient incantation to the god of the herds, never missed a bid. Nobody bought breeding stock: cows, calves, hogs, mostly. An occasional bull. Sometimes sheep or goats, but all headed to the abattoir. Why Dad bought this one and not that one remained mysterious. But “canners and cutters,” bony beasts with hip bones jutting out and ribs you could count were clear. And you couldn’t miss a “bangs cow,” that's what they called 'em, a big B—for brucellosis, a bad disease for them—stenciled on both jowls. Seers they were. All prescient, these cows. Their mournful moist eyes, the same kind you would have foreseeing a future stuffed inside a sausage casing, gave them away.