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Friday, May 20, 2011

Cow

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Cow
I love the trapezoid of your broad side:

Blank writing tablet in the grass.
Brown four-legged stool in snow.
Hand rest. Slice of bread, toasted.
Platter. Room divider. Steady wall
for shouldering, thinking. Wagon.
Tank standing or rumbling, peacefully.
Wardrobe, portmanteau, closet.
Leather travel chest. Longing.
Shield. Mother. Father.
Hooved bathtub. Man’s chest.
Bed. Melancholy. Repose.






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47 comments:

Maureen said...

Your poem brings a smile, as do the images. Great nose-ring.

California Girl said...

Your poetry and images make me feel guilty for enjoying them.

I used to love to go to the fields on the Warner Ranch neaxt to my jr college & draw the cows with pen and ink. They had Holsteins and were such fun to draw. I still love the smell of cows and cow pattys. My husband cannot understand that. I must have farm in the genes thanks to my father & grandparents.

In which city did you snap the ow statue? Was it Burlington, VT by chance? They have wonderful cow art. All statues are the same & different artists, schools, etc obtain, create and display. Here we do it with snowmen. The cows are much cuter, I think.

Ruth said...

Good, Maureen, cows make me smile too. They're such a comfort.

erin said...

you have me going now and wondering like butter to the chin and corn. the transition here: Leather travel chest. Longing.
Shield. Mother. Father.
i wonder on what is inbetween. however, i love the fluidity that exists between each transition. i do love this.

driving today robert and i were remarking about the sudden explosion of greens here in the last two days. a field of cows on green: ridiculous, how wrong! how right! fricken ireland! and the cows, always the cows, ruminating slowly like history.

xo
erin

Ruth said...

California Girl, why guilty?

I mostly love the smell of cows. Some days though, when they spread the manure syrup, I'm not so sure. But that's not the same thing anyway.

The bottom photo was in Paris in 2006, in the square where my apartment was, Place du Marche St. Catherine.

Ruth said...

Erin :-)

Oh there's something about a leather trunk, for travel. Nostalgia. Full of cotton dresses. A steamer ship. A long voyage. The shield? Um. There's something about the side of a cow that I want to stand against for the protection of a parent.

Ireland. Scotland. Wales. England. Yikes. I have a memory of a long haired cow in Scotland scratching himself with his long horn, standing in the dusky falling light.

Nottin' better, I'm thinkin'.

Grandmother said...

I came under their spell as a young girl visiting my grandparents and skipping up to the dairy farm at the top of their street. All those cows with their warm smells and gentle voices wowed the socks off this city girl who had never seen their like.

rosaria said...

Just looking at them from a distance puts us in a reverie, and a slow one at that. You captured that in the poem, and I went along.

missing moments said...

Absolutely love the cows in the fog but especially the ones in the snow! Wow!

OceanoAzul.Sonhos said...

Ruthm what animal friendly, beautiful photos. Congratulations for the poem!
hugs
oa.s

Margaret said...

Really like the first photo and fell in love with the winter scene. I really enjoyed "Tank standing or rumbling, peacefully" We have cows in a pasture near here. I have gotten up early morning a few times to capture the "perfect" pasture shot. Got out s-l-o-w-l-y and quietly so not to send them into a frenzy. Snapped a few photos and.. well, if ONE takes off scared, they ALL take off. I will try it again soon. :) I don't get "room divider". But enjoyed this poem. You are amazing!

Oliag said...

I don't think I have ever heard a bad word about cows:) Wonderful photos...love the cows in the mist all staring at you...and the wonderful word associations...

Arti said...

You're making cows sound poetic, Ruth... interesting viewpoints both in words and image. You know, we're known for the Calgary Stampede, and our city deservedly called Cowtown. Your last pic. has just given me the idea to photograph all the decorated cows on our city streets, each with its distinct character and costume. I'll make it my summer project. ;)

Patricia said...

You had me with the title of this post. Then I had the joy of reading your poem and then viewing these lovely forms. Thank you for the perfect end of a day (or a new beginning as the case may be).

Anna said...

Oh I love cows too. I like to look at the at the side of the road, and they always come close and look at you. I actually was going to make a post about them too, but it slipped. I has so many photos of different cows around, lol. BTW your photos are fabulous. Hope all is well. Anna :)

Susan said...

You made me smile this morning. :)))

I love their curiosity most of all, but getting to eat ice cream makes me put them on a very tall pedestal. Mmmmmm!

Brendan said...

Repose: The stillness of cows in their element, their slowness, the way those huge eyes pan across the world, taking it all in: How much we miss in our hurry! And we tender what is best in cows for just milk and only meat. Well, that's what I like about cows: Your descriptives hold forth their sturdy assurance on the earth, something one can lean into, be supported, be nurtured by the vastness of. Lovely lively lovely. The pix as always refer the visitor back to the power of the words. - Brendan

Ruth said...

Mary, I just love the image of a small city girl you being gently solaced by cows.

Ruth said...

Rosaria, I don't know if this is a poem, and it feels pretty inadequate for saying what it is I feel from cows. They put me into a silent place. I perhaps should just be still about them.

Ruth said...

Reena, thanks. The cows in the mist are less than a mile from our place. I pass them every morning to work. The ones in snow are about 1.5 miles away. I absolutely love each spring watching the calves stand under their moms, drinking.

Ruth said...

Thanks so much OA.S. I just want to lean against one now.

Ruth said...

Margaret, it is so funny how stealthily I try to do the same, but they always end up looking like this, curiously at the silly woman with the black box in her hands.

Room divider? I can see why it is pretty out there. Here's the thing. I have a big room divider in our living room that is sectioning off a corner for a study. It was my grandma's. Somehow I picture a cow like that, standing, still, big enough to divide me from what I want to shut out.

Guess what? I'm sitting in Petoskey! In a couple of hours we're riding our bikes in the Zoo-de-Mack, 51 miles from Boyne Highlands to Mackinaw City. I wonder if you ever rode it?

Ruth said...

Oliag, there are some cows I did not photograph that seem to have a sort of yucky life. Not the 500 head in the dairy barn I pass every day, they look miserable, but another herd that lies around in the mud, fenced in. They're covered in mud and only have grain in a trough, no grass. :(

Thanks, my friend.

Ruth said...

Arti, Cowtown, huh? There was a cow parade in Paris in 2006, and I had fun with that. I hope you'll share your pics at Ripple Effects. :-)

Ruth said...

Patricia, I have loved your fair photos, as you know. I can hardly wait for the fair in August, to see all the animals up close. Their eyes!

Ruth said...

Anna, like so many farm animals, they are curious, and wary. I try to tell them, "Just relax, as you were," but they don't listen! Hope you'll post some pics.

Ruth said...

Susie, ha! Remember Elsie? She could even talk!

Ruth said...

Brendan, repose and reassurance. That is it. These lines are not so much a poem as images that arise out of a very quiet gratitude for them. I kind of want to go on. I picture one of those sessions where people gather in a service of appreciation, just saying one word around and around the room, and what comes to mind thinking of cow.

Pat said...

I love cows AND your poem. Both make me smile. :)

Louise Gallagher said...

yup - all of this makes me smile -- and they're also art!

ds said...

To look into a cow's eyes is to see...broadside, placidity, melancholy. Cows, bless them, are grounded. I shall say that word for hours now: cow.
Bless you and your grounded poem, Ruth (for to travel--truly travel--is to become grounded in another place, yes?).

Deborah said...

My oh my but you have a way with even just a few words. Wonderful poem, Ruth - I could almost feel her bulk against my hand. Laughed at California Girl's comment - I feel the same way about cow patties even though I'm a city slicker.

Vagabonde said...

I sent so many postcards of cows to my mother – she said the picture of cows made her feel calm and relaxed. I still take pictures of cows any time I see them even though my mother is now gone.
I enjoyed reading all the back posts and poems you published while I traveled – I would not miss any of them.

Ruth said...

Pat, don't you just love riding by them on your travels? Thank you.

Ruth said...

Louise, I love the spotted ones. Yesterday we drove by long haired long horned cows coming home; I don't recall having seen them in the U.S.

Ruth said...

DS, you read well, you know, and feel and think . . .

Their weight, presence, calm make me happy.

Ruth said...

Deborah, it seems that there is farm and country in many people, even the ones who prefer living in the city. People just sort of spread out when they drive into the country and see the animals standing, so simply standing and munching.

Ruth said...

Vagabonde, welcome back. That is so delightful, that you sent your mother postcards of cows, sophisticated lady that she was.

Thank you for reading what I posted while you were away, that touches me. I feel the same about yours if I am gone too. I look forward to hearing about your travels.

Marcie said...

Both in words and in images - you've described the familiarity and warmth of the 'old' cow - perfectly!!!

Ginnie said...

Leave it to you, sister, to write a poem about the cow and to post about it here. The images are wonderful. You would have loved the highlanders we saw on Saturday while on a photo-hunt with other bloggers. What is it about a cow! I think you hit it all in your poem.

Mark Kerstetter said...

There is dignity in your words, as well as the pictures, a nice corrective to the 'Disnification' we too often see of animals/nature.

Ruth said...

Marcie, aren't they wonderful creatures? So steady.

Ruth said...

Boots, I woke up in a tent outside Amsterdam when I was on study abroad, and there was a cow right outside the door. Cow patties galore.

:-)

Ruth said...

Thanks for that, Mark. I enjoy meditating on these animals.

Amy @ Soul Dipper said...

It was a treat to stay at my farm-friend's home on the weekend so I could milk cows. I loved leaning my head into the warm belly and listen to the streaming sound of the milk hitting the sides of the pail.

Ruth said...

I can almost hear it, Amy.

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

Ruth, the imagery here is simply wonderful. Each visual metaphor moos out to be delighted in. I love the way it ends ...

Hooved bathtub. Man’s chest.
Bed. Melancholy. Repose.


... which even has its sequential, senuous and suggestive logic.

Though an elephant myself, I have long felt a fascination and even kinship for cows. When my memory takes me back to childhood summers on my grandmother's farm in Asturias (Spain), one of the most prized sounds was from the cows. So different their deep mbellowed moans when heard from the upper pasture or the lower meadow or, of course, from within the stable.

Are you familiar with Billy Collins' poem Irish Cows? The entire poem is to be recommended, but I am especially taken by his description of the "full-bodied cry" that begins in the "darkness ofher bellow and echoed up through her bowed ribs into her gaping mouth". At first he thinks it is a cry of pain, but ...

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.

How well you, too, have captured and conveyed "unadulterated cowness" in this delightful poem.