Sue Roberts
Ray’s cows filled the dairy barn with shit-steam wafting
from their black-and-white hides. Hooked just before dawn,
then again, nightfall, heavy teats weighted with stainless
plungers pulling cream from them, ivory. Between milkings
they ranged, far down the hip-deep carpets hanging
above town overlooking runnels of road and car; the tiny
peopled canvas had nothing to do with their contemplative
chewing. I loved their massive eyes, lush-lashed and
sensitive. Would dare to touch a pulsing side, the mother
looking back as if to say, okay then. The spring calves,
suede-soft, kept in low-fenced pens: no one told us
their short sad story. Their brays pulled something
from me as I knelt to touch the soft tufts between
velvet ears. We got our milk straight from the
bed-sized steel tank, filled glass gallon jugs with warm froth.
I slept with them in me: years of grass-tongued source food
that now I turn from: forgive me, I would say to them,
long dead, sourced and distal, even their beautiful long
bones useful. I would sing to them now, yes. Believe it.