Cows. They Have Stupid Eyes, Friend So Dear

Marianne Boruch

to me wrote. But I’d bring her back to see sheep
in the paddock step out of their fleece like
the gleaming bodies she knew from the bath,

washing child after child those years.

She’d like that. Painter. Poet. Silenced
by cells gone ruthless, not telling one of us.
I can’t hold that against her.

The stricken body gets so familiar it turns
to a rag. It must be hung on a line to dry. I’d tell her
I know now what’s solitary, what isn’t.

Sheep, their abrupt nakedness inside that fence wasn’t 

a simple matter, blade and blood, radiant fold
on fold distant under one giant eucalyptus for shade,
bare bodies by way of the shearing

a shock. Nor the Old Masters, what they did

never easy either, to brush in a backdrop, burnt umber
and bone black warming up each
room in their paintings, laying down sorrow

as context, as drapes that part only at
the most beloved lit whatever-it-is, what she left.

Marianne Boruch is the author of The Anti-Grief. Her Bestiary Dark is based on her research as a Fulbright Scholar in Australia.
Originally published:
June 28, 2021

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