Their udders were so bloated
a thorn might have slayed them.
Sidestepping their own stiff
tits, the cows hustled & hurtled
through the doorway, a barge
of skull & shoulder ramming a road
to the feed trough.
They were Herefords, beef cattle,
meaning Grandpap didn’t milk them.
That was left to the calves,
pink & white & knock-kneed,
a muddle of nose and bone.
Undaunted, they squeezed
among red brawn & hot flank,
joyfully smashing their rock-a-block
heads into their mothers’ tender
Crush, kick, slam—
twice a day, this greed circus.
And I, stashed on the other side of the fence,
teetered against the bars with a grain scoop,
pouring rivers of mash, dangling
a frail wrist among the grinding
jaws, the brutal tongues.
I would do anything,
in those days,
to be touched.