I can still hear the loud moan
in my grandfather’s kitchen,
where the woodstove was open
for the failing fire’s warmth, and
on the oven door, wrapped
in an old quilt, lay the new Charolais calf—
a twin that survived its snowy birth
that morning, though its brother died-
both of them the color of muddy snow,
this one too weak to stand.
We tried to feed him his mother’s milk,
but he seemed to forget he was eating
and slept, so that by ten that night, when
he raised his head suddenly, making
a loud maa-a-a-a sound, I could scarcely
believe it. “He’s getting better!”
Dad put his hand on my shoulder.
”Quiet. He’s dying,” was all he said—
old knowledge, deep as the Blue Mountains.
Still, I’d witnessed that final, wonderful
rallying, as if every ounce of life pulled
together to raise the calf’s head,
to leave his sound so indelibly there.
From Rupture (Red Hen Press).
Used with the author’s permission.