Poems from

When I Reached into the Stomach of a Fistulated Dairy Cow: Sixth Grade Field Trip to Sonny’s Dairy Barn

Clover and oats, a tangle of bile-
singed timothy hay—what Sonny

said we’d feel. Gloves
kissed to our elbows. Ferment of the winter

cow field. I feel a whole
bitten pasture as it broke

down inside her—blue barn
sweet with the atomic

shudder of barley. I reach past
that weave of hot forage to the fuchsia

grove, where after a future
lover and I drop

acid, he’ll wrap my neck
and wind my nipples with the fringy mimosas’

burlesque feathers. I reach back
and further through fields

to the French Canadian
with a musket wound blown

through his left side: the stomach wound
that gaped like hibiscus, wouldn’t

heal, even as he married
a white-haired girl from Lake Michigan’s coast,

fathered two girls. I touch
her cheek, where a platinum

strand splits her eye
from her lip, which opens and shuts

and opens. I watch
her feed him plum halves on a string

so she can pull the desiccated
fruit from his side’s portal

to know how matter moves
through his body. Now

the cow’s gut contracts and holds
my forearm. I’d scream

except for the throb
of her back’s heat, the peat

moss below that pillows
our joined shadow: cow and a girl

grafted as a radical
experiment. No, it’s when

I grew a whole heaving
beast for a palm, my wrist which holds

a Holstein’s pulse, pull
like a wound where inside the hay

breaks its weave, where the shredded
mimosa won’t shut.

 

reprinted from FIELD

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