that time I stole a cow…

Fair Trade

Thirteen years old
and mother-naked,
I shimmied down
the leaden drain-pipe,
descending from my closet room.

I scrapped my belly raw
on lumpy paint,
tore nails against tree-bark,
trading blood for pine-sap,
the cost of balance.

My house-warden’s room
never lit, I was free to dash
across the heather
exchanging in my flight,
the sweet plant scent
for the odor of the barn.

The door was never locked,
but the automatic
lights went up
when I opened the door.

I wished for coveralls then,
but there were none here,
and my clothing
had been confiscated.

The Cows did not know nakedness,
but their dark eyes drank
my sunless skin, and the doomed one
stamped in her stall,
hooves nicking the cement.
She knew something was coming.

I creaked wide the gate
and buried my face
in her dusty gold flank.
There is nothing on earth
so pretty as a prime-age Jersey.

She clothed my arms,
my shoulders,
in the warm milky film
from her generous tongue.

Rape could not diminish
her capacity for love.
We were sisters,
in that.

There was a halter,
I needed no saddle.

I used the splintered
stall frame for balance
to clamor to my seat,
my legs Clothed her shoulders.
We rode out into the night.

The lights died out behind us
as the air Breathed
trading barn-stench
for sweetness.

I would have chosen
the unused field-path,
the cow took the road.
We walked five miles,

until the moon
traded its place
for the bloody rim
of the dawn.

I rode with my spine
Held straight,
feeling no jolting.
She carried me gently.

When the sun showed
itself at last,
so large, so golden,
the policemen
were coming.

Their sirens wailed loud,
but could not startle us.
My sister stopped moving.
I raised up my arms.


About Bethany W Pope

Bethany W Pope was named by the Huffington Post as ‘one of the five Expat poets to watch in 2016’. Nicholas Lezard, writing for The Guardian, described her latest collection as 'poetry as salvation'.....'This harrowing collection drawn from a youth spent in an orphanage delights in language as a place of private escape.' Bethany has won many literary awards and published several collections of poetry. Her first novel, Masque, was published by Seren in 2016. Her second novel, Ordinary Lives: The Ballad of John and Mary, was published in 2018. Follow her on Twitter @BethanyWPope

Posted on April 6, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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