ISSUE 5 · FALL 2010




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Copyright © 2010

Rob Cook





What the Calf Daughter Knows

ROB COOK



The teenagers chased me through the crab apple trees.

I was only four but they wanted dead what they did inside me.

They howled like the barn when it howls.

I was only a calf and they trapped me by a red picket fence.

Nothing beyond it but a house.

Not stars in the sky, but men sitting at tables

with their cold eyes and forks

and the insides of their bodies that went on forever.

Then the teenagers emptied on the ground

a bag of what they called happy burgers.

They said I was a calf

and these were all the pieces of my mother.

They disappeared where the wind was cut open,

leaving me alone under the still-taunting crab apple trees.

I was only four days old and without flesh.

I nuzzled the happy burgers from their little white wrappings.

And with no one to show me how to move my mouth

but somehow knowing the starving dandelions were looking for me,

I picked up the scattered gristle with the wounds I used for chewing

and tried, weeping through my teeth that weren’t yet teeth,

to put my mother’s charred and loving silence together again.

And when she refused to remember, I crawled into the dark pasture

whose carcasses had been wakened with knives and forced

to endure the moonlight that touched them

everywhere on their skinless bodies.