Tuesday, April 16, 2013

On Checking the Cows Sunday Evening, March 21, 1993

I'm not so angry now

froth melted to fatigue
i see the lump over by the twin ditches
low and insignificant
another dead cow

observed calving after lunch in some scattered willows
while we worked out some calvy heifers to take
to the barn
one heifer got on the fight
would not be cut out and driven
pingo and i turned her on the ice a dozen times
she stampeded blind down the fence
fell through the ice
broke her shoulder

back at 5:30
i see the flailing legs
rush to the rescue in time to watch
this cow's final thrash
last gasp
laid down on a dry ditchbank to calve
slipped in the ditch
with her head upstream
her swollen belly
stopped the snowmelt trickle
made a puddle that just fit her face

i'm not so angry now

it was a dumb mistake but
did the best
she could
trapped straining in the rising water
throwing her head and kicking between spasms
she spit out her new red heifer calf
cold and bewildered
on the soggy sandbar behind

i'm not so angry now

exhausted past caring of life or death
her head to heavy to lift
the water in one nostril
without help
beyond hope
while I doctor a calf
gaze at my broken-legged heifer
prolapsed and drowning
left us something

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