My Father's Cows
My fatherís cows
kick up bits of moist black soil and grass,
smell of milk and manure,
switch tails through clouds of flies,
nudge each other,
chomp and grind the cobs and silky husks
Iíve tossed across the fence.
Across the pasture fatherís barn stands
gray against blue sky.
I step across time. Inside the barn
pale light shines through fly-specked bulbs,
casts shadows on cobwebbed, whitewash walls.
(I hate to clear the webs; fat brown spiders crawl down the broom.)
Pitchfork slides easily into flattened straw
I lift and shake, careful for flick of hoof.
Upstairs in the barn
on a summer afternoon
my father and I work in shafts of light;
chaff twirls upward through the mow.
I grasp bright twine, rest musky bale upon my knee,
swing back, then forward,
up to reaching hands.
My father says Iím strong as a boy.
When the load is done, we sit in shade,
drink sweet, rich milk
dipped from the cooling-tank.
The husks are gone; my fatherís cows
snort at the ground,
turn and walk away.
Their lush bags sway from side to side.