Eliot Wilson, “Pastoral”

orange line

Pastoral

Eleven head, the neighbor’s cows,
pushed through my storm-damaged fence
to graze out the fall kitchen garden.

I woke to find them couched
about the yard like Roman generals
at a Lucullan feast.

They are chewing my tender hopes
for late kale.

Feeder cows, these,
jigsaw-bodied,
a week from the lots of Greeley
and oblivion.

Here and there a heifer
carving a pumpkin with delicate gluttony
or standing over my harvest,
dumbly intent on the rest
of cilantro and mint.

The new tongues of spinach
clipped.
The last sprigs
of sweet dill wave
from their mouths then vanish,

each tidy row mowed
to the ground and below
the ground
until the frost-broken vase
of late summer is empty.

From the window of my rented kitchen,
I speak to them softly,
praise them, innocent criminals,
in my own captive way.

Afterward,
their hoof prints fill with rain
and sparrows drink.

 


Eliot Wilson has published two books of poems and won two NEA Fellowships, and he has two chickens—Opal and Iris. He lives in Golden, Colorado.


 

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