Milk Gap

poetry 0
Dawn Potter


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


rope-veined pokes.
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.

Dawn Potter is the author of eight books of prose and poetry. She directs the Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching and lives in Portland, ME.