Poetry Porch: Poetry


One Cow Stands Quietly
by Joyce Wilson

Pervomayskaya, Russia. “One cow stands quietly, still alive, with her stomach
hanging out from a gash in her side.”    AP Wire Service, January 22, 1996.

Her breath could still be warm. 
Insert your hand inside
and tell me of this war,

how all the horsemen came
with bullhorns and with leaflets,
kalishnikovs and boys

when I believed the truth 
could be assessed and reassessed
in our four-chambered heart

of logic and of grace, 
with humor and with trust,
before I understood 

this regurgitated truth 
comes back romantic pulp
without protagonist.

She can chew and re-chew
in quiet isolation
and self-communion.

As in the Dark Ages,
she will wait still for death
without imperative.

Tell me, what is worse
than blank imperative?
How can we leave her here?

I cough up phlegm, despair,
until revenge, or fear,
the impetus to act

turns bitterness to gall
and murder in my mouth
transformative and sweet.

Tell me of the strength 
in the wise and feminine,
the stomach as a verb:

How much can we stomach?
Her organ is detached 
and resting on the curb.

Copyright © 2002 by Joyce Wilson. This poem was the winner of the 2002 Daniel Varoujan Award of the New England Poetry Club.