Calving Under the Moon
Winters, Sandra Ann
Mozart charges the country air. The cow, midnight black,
lies in the corner of a stall, under a single incandescent bulb;
rubbernecking members of the herd press around the byre.
The acrid odor of manure and disinfectant blend with sweet hay.
Up to his elbows in latex, he wets the ropes in a dishpan of water,
taps the jack together. She turns her cumbrous head;
bovine eyes, brown, gaze beneath pleated brows to see him
lean into her syncopated contractions, but no give there.
Are you sure itís a poly? he asks the old Irish farmer.
Kneeling, he pushes his right arm, inside, up to his shoulder.
On her flank his left hand rests, keeping tempo with her breathing.
She bellows against the moon. Shadows of the gate
fall across his back as a white hoof presents; he attaches the rope,
a loop above the fetlock, a half hitch below, but she outplays him.
Swaying, she rises, runs from birth, jack trailing.
Settling her, trying again, he cups the tiny hoof in his hand,
Pulls the calf in an arc, downward, avoiding hip lock,
tells the farmer,
Lean gently on the jack. Go with her. Stay with me.
In concert the two of them crank when she pushes,
hold the tension when she rests. Blood bursts red streams,
the calf slides out wet, a linen-white face.
She swings, licks the birth, enormous pink tongue working.
Stripping the gloves from his dirt-creased hands, he leaves,
whistling Violin Concerto No. I, allegro moderato.
Copyright © Sandra Ann Winters 2014