Now that I have read this story about the cows
I think of them at night when I cannot sleep,
how they are so still in their grassy field,
seemingly suspended like animations of themselves.
Even though there are only 3, I count them over and over,
envision them as if I were floating above their pasture,
observe the different stances they choose:
the 3 of them standing bottom to bottom, or
head to head,
sometimes in a row, one behind the other
sometimes side by side.
They stand where they want and nurse their calves.
They lie down in their field when they feel like it.
If the farmer wants to kill one, and it won’t get in the truck
he gives up and lets it live.
If the farmer wants to sell one, and it won’t get in the truck
he gives up and lets it stay.
I am glad I read this story by Lydia Davis.
I like to think of how she stood in her window and watched these cows.
I imagine how she may have moved from inside her house to outside her house,
depending on the weather, to stand and watch these cows,
month after month,
and although the details of their days are rather plain
she wrote a very essential story.
Right before I fall asleep I think about how there are no cows where I live
but there are mountains,
and I watch them move in this same way.
They open and close, depending on the weather
and like these 3 cows, these mountains are a few of the things left
that get to live exactly as they must.
The air is close by the sea and the glow from the pink moon
drapes low over a tamarind tree.
We hold hands, walk across a road rushing with traffic
to an abandoned building site on the bay, look out across the dark marina.
Sea cows sleep by the side of a splintered dock, a cluster of them
under the shallow water,
their wide backs covered in algae like mounds of bleached coral.
Every few minutes one floats up for air,
then drifts back down to the bottom,
without fully waking.
They will do this for hours, and for a while we try to match
our breath to theirs, and with each other’s.
In the morning, sitting in the garden beneath thatch palms,
we drink black coffee from white ceramic cups.
Lizards killed by feral cats are scattered on the footpath.
I sweep them into a pile with the ones from the night before.
Waves of heat rise from the asphalt,
and we sense a transparent gray fuzz lightly covering everything
as if there were no such thing as empty space,
that even a jar void of substance holds emptiness as if it were full.