By Deena Metzger

After seven lean years
we are promised seven fat ones,
if the cows do not die first.
Some care must be taken
to prevent their demise
in the scrub
or the slaughterhouse.
There must be enough bones
to throw and to bury.

The skull of a cow,
I put it on.
There are many strewn in the field,
there has not been much rain.
I look through the eyes,
that is, my eyes replace the eyes
that death has taken.
I can see out or through.
It is not a bad fate
to be a cow,
to be, at once,
so awkward,
so full of grace,
so full of milk.

Everywhere the udders are full,
the teats are ready,
the mouth of the calf is soft and deep.
I would thrust my hand in it
for the wet joy of being so used.

My own breasts are marked
from the time the milk came in too fast;

I did not have time to grow
to the moment of giving.
It is fitting
that beauty
leaves such scars.

Milk has passed through my fingers,
has spurted through my fingers,
but not once
during these seven lean years.

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