Cow Story

Why I want to tell this story, if it is a story,
puzzles me the way philosophy does,
it’s not of any actual use, you can’t apply
a moral instruction, no one benefits,
the best thing to be said is it entertains
if, sitting on a burgundy leather couch,
you feel your mind drift back to a moment
when you thought you understood what
had happened, why the day after would be
inevitable and vicious in its lovely pain.
But that had no more logic than this story,
which isn’t a story, now that I think of it.
It’s only that Dee and I were early in love,
we liked hearing Jimmy Moore’s cows moo
two, three fences away, wanting to come in,
be counted, get fed, waiting seemed too long,
so one might lift his heavy neck, his number
in his nose his only name, and just bellow.
The next one, darker but almost a twin,
thought the issue required clarification, so
his comment lifted over the loblolly pines,
and soon the herd was a legislature facing
an issue not one could define or remember.
Dee liked wine but I’d take a Pabst, we’d
sit by the river smelling salt, the voices
of other humans beyond the dark surface
sounding almost our parents calling us in.
But we were married now, feeling ambition
drove us to comment. But it wasn’t that,
really, it was only love making us want
to speak to anything of how we felt. So
I’d lift my mouth, open wide, and let go
the best moo I had. I’ve seen them waddle
to the fence, watch me to see what I had
to say, one or two’s answer soft as words.
Long nights, touching, we’d lie in bed
working out ideas, visions, our future.
Even now, when I feel bullish, I’ll give one.
Our grown children like to say “oh Dad,”
as if nonsense has no value to a society.
That’s why my wife likes to sneak me a kiss,
one filled with discussions, talk, and sighs.
Her certainty I can do it again understood.

Dave Smith

Dave Smith

Dave Smith is the author of many books of poetry, fiction, criticism, and memoir, including The Wick of Memory: New and Selected Poems, 1970–2000, Little Boats, Unsalvaged: Poems, 1992–2004, Hunting Men: Reflections on a Life in American Poetry, and Hawks on Wires: Poems 2005-2010. Former editor of The Southern Review, he has received numerous honors, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rockefeller Foundation, and membership in the Fellowship of Southern Writers.
Dave Smith

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Author: Dave Smith

Dave Smith is the author of many books of poetry, fiction, criticism, and memoir, including The Wick of Memory: New and Selected Poems, 1970–2000, Little Boats, Unsalvaged: Poems, 1992–2004, Hunting Men: Reflections on a Life in American Poetry, and Hawks on Wires: Poems 2005-2010. Former editor of The Southern Review, he has received numerous honors, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rockefeller Foundation, and membership in the Fellowship of Southern Writers.