Quiet Earth of Cows
by Laura Sobbott Ross


Let the rain fall.
These gentle beasts seem so willing
to tolerate thunder, to absorb lightning
with the marrow of their bones.
Swallowing torn things,
blade by blade, across a valley
of hunger so arduous it can suffer
scorching heat, black flies, eye-wall winds.
There is only the sound of breath,
yes breath, beneath each mountain
of earth colored flesh.
Dumb-eyed, will they ever know
tenderness the way they know weather,
or nettle or egrets--white plumed
and waiting in cloven footprints
for unturned insects.

I wonder how we must look to the cows.
Noisy gods who croon at them
from the fence line, waving our fistfuls
of grasses and pungent leaves torn
from unreachable branches.
They will shun our touch.
Even the clouds are more
predictable than human hands,
each a clamoring on the horizon
between rainbows and hailstones.


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