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A Dairy Man Remembers

Some cows hated the touch of hands.

Published onMay 17, 2023
A Dairy Man Remembers

Photo by Mark Stebnicki:

From the house to the barn,
it was something in those days,
squeezing milk from fifty teats
into buckets.
Some cows hated the touch of hands.
Others just got sleepy.
One or two looked at me hard.
Others, in hope, like I was the ward nurse.
Dumb animals, some called cows.
Not me.
It took smarts to be born female.
And chew cud in the fields all day.
It all had that nineteenth century,
pre-industrial feel to it,
sleeves rolled up, sweating in summer,
puffing ice breath in January.
But a living comes at a man
from different ways
and he’s got to grab what he can,
even if it’s just old Molly’s bulging dugs.
I didn’t know at the time
I’d someday have a poet for a grandson.
My own son showed no interest.
I figured this would all die with me.
So how should I feel with him
getting me up so early,
sitting my rear end on a stool,
keeping my fingers busy.
I’m dead, so I don’t need to do this.
But he gets off, as he says,
on coming from farming stock.
And he’s family.
I’m doing this for him.

John Grey is an Australian poet and US resident, recently published in Stand, Washington Square Review and Floyd County Moonshine. Latest books, Covert, Memory Outside The Head and Guest Of Myself are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in the McNeese Review, Santa Fe Literary Review and Open Ceilings.

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