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ISSUE:  Summer 1990
James Wright, 1927—1980

On one long road from here
I spent the time with some of those
you have heard of, who gave up our town.
They introduced me to much more of the sky
I had missed, and to the only cow of the farm.
By some enchanted circumstance I was meant
to make friends. So I asked the big white nose
as much as I knew about the business of milk.
The cow stood. Things were not going good.

So then, I will tell this mammal
about myself, and the milk I give, which is
in my enthusiasm and business of human poetry.
Not a lick. So what I thought, I shall instruct
this cow in the ways of the beautiful green hour
a shadow can become in the James Wright poem
of the farm where he lay in an island of pine.
Of interest maybe, the ravine and brethren
of said cow wandering through the poem,

vanishing into the late afternoon.
It was so human, I said. It fit this world.
And taking a serious look into eyes of a cow,
I know now that every mortal word you can say
becomes confession, what I learned on the farm.
The eyes are deep blue so you remember heaven.
The cow is big and brown so you remember how
cow listens when there’s nothing else to do.
Chews cud. Shares a long and elegiac moo.


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