national anthology of the best undergraduate writing 2011

Field Poem

Isabel Neal  • 
Pitzer College

Just before waking

I dream the blind cow has slipped

and fallen down,

her belly split

a clean barrel, a diagram.

Inside

her heart shakes

and squawks, batters the ribcage,

a white bird.

 

She stands still

nosing the gray mud

this piece of light flips against her bones

the knowing field

drifts

under my boots.

I can barely look at her.

 

In the morning, we thumb our cold coats on

and do not eat breakfast til we return

smelling clean shit, rain

straw. I pronounce les vaches

les veaux

la jeunisse. I repeat names

with my mouth full and

Philippe and Marie-Laure nod.

 

Another cow gives birth.

Her long cry shifts the herd

on their hooves, taut hip skin stretches

brush tails swing.

 

A measure of sun,

her broad and bloody chime,

rising,

again, again,

a new vowel.