ISSUE 5 · FALL 2010
What the Calf Daughter Knows
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.