#117 Cow


#117 Cow

2008 – 12 x 18 – edition of 22 – $350

I have driven by this spot, this rural Wisconsin dairy farm hundreds of times and never failed to slow down. The cows seeking relief from the summer heat, the bands of color in the fields.

The Mouse that Broke the Camel’s Back

We claimed we were getting
back to nature, someplace
we’d barely been before.

For me, a half-a-block of woods
across the street,
an uncle’s cabin
up in Canada.

For you, two weeks each summer
at Camp Country Boy.

We bought two-hundred acres
in Wisconsin, the barn
already threatening to collapse.

And then, four horses,
just because they’d look so pretty
in the field…
a tractor and a rusty pick-up truck
for you.

You built an A-frame outhouse,
put a window in,
so we could watch the pretty horses
in the field.

I tried to bake bread,
had two babies in two years,
weeded the garden.

I told my friends back in the city
that I loved it,
rattled on about the size of the stars
in the night-sky,
the quiet splendor of the woods,
the deep satisfaction
of growing our own food.
I never said that canning thousands
of tomatoes made me cry,
that the January wind
went right through the walls
of the old house,
that those pretty horses needed water
in the winter too…

that all of our animals
seemed to have learning disabilities
and mental-health issues…

that the babies,
though I was crazy about them,
were not the only kind of company
I craved,
nor was the porcupine
who’d taken up residence
in the root-cellar.

It was the mouse
in my underwear drawer
that finally did it.
I started packing that same day

for anyplace
away from nature.