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Night Cows

ISSUE:  Winter 1995

They enter the house after dark
now that the children are gone.

Lying next to my husband, who turns
in his sleep, I can hear them:

black bulks shifting in the abandoned rooms,
their mournful mooing so low I have to lift my head

to know no one is calling for me through the long hours.
Their moist jaws work the dark, turning it

over on rough powerful tongues, all night
chewing it, filling their four cavities

with the black broth—gone, gone, gone, and gone,
they say, and muffled voices answer

from hidden catacombs where mothers
bury their wombs and the tools of their mothering.

And just before dawn—their bodies huge and taut
as if the black air had nourished them and thinned

around the house—before my husband wakes,
they’ve ambled back outside into the snow.

At breakfast I see them in the pasture across the road,
the field white and glistening and they

scattered and motionless: a charred urn
exploded on bleached cloth.


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