Sunday, March 17, 2013

Morning with Irish Cows

These (though three-leafed) remind me of the patch of four-leaf clovers I found in our lawn in Santa Fe, the strip along the driveway.  My own unlooked-for patch of good luck, that seemed then inexhaustible.

Now, luck comes other ways.  In poetry, in patient and dumbfounded cows, in the regard of the world back at us.  In the lamb stew or colcannon I will make for supper, this day of the Irish (only three-eighths my day, then).

Afternoon with Irish Cows

There were a few dozen who occupied the field

across the road from where we lived,

stepping all day from tuft to tuft,

their big heads down in the soft grass,
though I would sometimes pass a window
and look out to see the field suddenly empty

as if they had taken wing, flown off to another country.

Then later, I would open the blue front door,

and again the field would be full of their munching

or they would be lying down

on the black-and-white maps of their sides,
facing in all directions, waiting for rain.

How mysterious, how patient and dumbfounded

they appear in the long quiet of the afternoon.

But every once in a while, one of them

would let out a sound so phenomenal

that I would put down the paper

or the knife I was cutting an apple with

and walk across the road to the stone wall

to see which one of them was being torched

or pierced through the side with a long spear.

Yes, it sounded like pain until I could see

the noisy one, anchored there on all fours,

her neck outstretched, her bellowing head

laboring upward as she gave voice

to the rising, full-bodied cry
that began in the darkness of her belly

and echoed up through her bowed ribs into her gaping mouth.

Then I knew that she was only announcing

the large, unadulterated cowness of herself,

pouring out the ancient apologia of her kind

to all the green fields and the gray clouds,
to the limestone hills and the inlet of the blue bay,

while she regarded my head and shoulders

above the wall with one wild, shocking eye.

—Billy Collins

image:  shamrocks


  1. can the man capture a moment.
    not haiku.
    but then ~ magic nonetheless.
    thank you!

    1. He's always delightful. I love "unadulterated cowness."

  2. I never found a four-leaf clover leaf in my life.
    My mother, who has always been extremely short-sighted, finds them every time she lays her eyes on a patch of green ground.
    Hope your path of clover leafs will bring you the best of luck.
    Many many thanks again for the beautiful notebooks you sent me. I really wasn't expecting. That was a perfect little something which I will use to write my mother letters and to write my future blog posts.
    Thank you Christie. You're sweet and kind.

    1. Maybe that's my secret too—shortsightedness! Good people are my good luck, and I thank you for being one. Keep enjoying the notebooks. I'm anxiously awaiting your next blog! Hope you're safely moved, and settled in. Be well.