The Cow Speaks to the Child

There’s no me without you, 
says the cow in the sunlight 
being looked at, being drawn 
by the child with crayons. 

Is the hill an almond? the child 
wants to know. Is life irrefutable? 

The start of ‘me’ is the start of 
the ending of ‘you.’ See that hole
in your sock where
the cold can get through?

The child’s toe sticks 
through the hole now.

Some philosophers grow ulcers 
from eating loneliness. 
There’s not much we know.

The cow’s tongue smacks its lips. 

The child fills in its spots 
with blue crayon and silence. 
A dragonfly or not.

Related Poems

I See You in the Field of My Mind Baby Moo Cow

Your look makes me want to jump off the roof
of the modern art museum. How am I supposed
to tell you about my life? Yesterday I saw a turtle
eat a dandelion flower up close. I cannot say what
this might mean to you. It was on my phone,
which is where I’ve been living lately. I can’t expect
you to understand. I cry openly and you stare at me
with big wet cow-eyes. I tell you what the abyss is like.
I heard breathing. It was my own. I wasn’t terrified.
Loneliness binds me to myself but I use my phone
as a wedge, use it to keep myself from touching who
I am. Nobody wants to grow up, not even children.
They just want to be taller because they hate being
looked down upon. What is it we see when we turn
and look back? Salt? Pepper? I’ll take both. No more
questions. All I want is to sit in this field with you,
little cow, this field I built in my mind. I pet you, make
little noises. You try to move away but I hold on to you,
I throw my arms around your neck. You drop
your dark head, continue chewing what you chew.

In Envy of Cows

The cow swings her head in a deep drowsy half-circle to and over
Flank and shoulder, lunging
At flies; then fragrantly plunging
Down at the web-washed grass and the golden clover,
Wrenching sideways to get the full tingle; with one warm nudge,
One somnolent wide smudge
Sacred to kine,
Crushing a murmurous of late lush August to wine!

The sky is even water-tone behind suave poplar trees—
Color of glass; the cows
Occasionally arouse
That color, disturb the pellucid cool poplar frieze
With beauty of motion slow and succinct like some grave privilege
Fulfilled. They taste the edge
Of August, they need
No more: they have rose vapors, flushed silence, pulpy milkweed.

The Farmhouse, the Old Barn in the Frame, Faceless Animals in Soft Focus

Oh sure, the pink slip, the lamb’s tongue—little
rougher than when I reached for its shape. A poem

does that—packs in the pastoral to moment,
blazes an erasure of the dried whey protein

feeding the creature, asks you to think of a mother
in a negative shape, feel the process of death

as a child, which is to say, somewhere else and not
any battered twine that touches you. In the corner—

look—that’s the filter I want to frame all the iPhone
pics I take back home: saturated nostalgia but the cold

light to tell you that I see something else,
an understanding that I eat without consequence

but its OK because I caressed the withers of sheep
or cows or whatever, that I knew where their slaughter

lived. My apartment has plants in it. I’m still a farmer.
My moon metaphors work with the almanac, that cold

light, that speculative distance tautening disgust
and reverence. But—look—so cute, so cauterized.