ISSUE 3 · FALL 2009




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Copyright © 2009

Rob Cook

At Night I Hear Animals

Behind the Moon

ROB COOK


for the cow Cincinnati Freedom



I jumped—all the slabs

of me—and cleared six

feet of cold-blooded

fence. I fled for eleven days.

Hid when I could in the clover

and the tangle and cover

of thorns, the hedges that licked

and fed me with their lull.

 

Something followed me

across the dark sky after

the clouds were led away trembling.

And when the two-leggeds

arrived to nuzzle my flesh

 

with sledgehammers and saws,

and instead caught me in their ropes,

I didn’t know how to cry

or move the holes in my head.

But they didn’t take me home

to that house of below-zero light.

At the end I didn’t die

 

and that milk-bright bucket

over the mountains and fields would not hide

its loving glare. I was brought to others

who survived, and to make the day

go on past the trees, the sunlight, the ditch

where the flies ate the lilies

without a sound between them,

we grazed a thousand miles

and stayed close as we could

to the wind and the weeping smell of apples.

 

And when the barn got too far

to reach before the dark found us

and the birds cried like knives

and those I left behind, the steers still

shrieking in the silence of the meat hooks

that held them as a heaven would,

we crawled into each other’s wounds for a place

to drink from the sleeping sky,

to empty our thin gruel, and whisper without

disturbing the ground that, though it hurt,

did not think of hurting us.