Gently Close

The nearness of them was enough
to keep us from church, though another
family might honk move along
as we inched up to the troughs thinking
then shouting GUERNSEYS
from the car windows, the practiced
first syllable a barrel of cow mimicry

rising from the wells of our throats
until we ran out of air and the 2nd
quieter syllable resolved
into a pair of Zs winging
for the high open fields where deer
sometimes slipped out
of the landscape looking

as if they were caught moments
after a kiss. The cows, however,
never showed a hint of
enchantment, were down-
right agnostic about transformations.
Oh they knew better—if that's
what domesticated sense is—

than trying to leap the fences
and stone walls that time
or circumstance builds, them huddling
gently close, not tempting
what had them tramping mud and bearing
the indignity of odor
as they leaned on each other

like the best of friends.
The eyes a cut of sunless water,
disparately thin legs fighting
for equilibrium, the way people standing
on a bus have to, and the udders
swaying like traveling bags, tugging
them earthward, to all things sensible.

John Kennedy
Copyright © 2001

John Kennedy's poetry chapbook, How To Be a Witness, is published by Picadilly Press. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry, Prairie Schooner, North American Review, Yankee, and The Seattle Review. Book reviews are forthcoming in The Antioch Review and The Texas Review.

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