The cows

by DS Maolalaí

I can’t have been more than 5.
we were visiting with my uncle
5 hours into the country,
a drive past stretching cow fields,
sheep, and summer pasture.
and I remember his cows
fat as spiders, stumbling and slipping on shitted cement,
yelling so loud I was sick,
sick of the sounds and the smells
and the wetness of their slapping lips
like the touch of cold ham
like landing on my hands in a fat puddle.
and they were stuck to machines and slagged out for milk
that could be nothing like the milk we had at home –
nothing which tasted like our milk,
fresh and delicious as breakfast
could be strained from these stained mud creatures,
their constant pushing and pulling of get-out-of-it stickiness, stuck and unwilling,
tired and heavier than traffic,
none of it caring where I put my feet,
none of it caring about my soft boys fear.

death may be a thing that happens anywhere
but hell is just a stress
surrounding and fearful and louder than anything understandable,
standing being brave and pushed forward by your uncle
with his big
strong uncle hands.

DS Maolalaí has been nominated for Best of the Web and twice for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden (Encircle Press, 2016) and Sad Havoc Among the Birds (Turas Press, 2019)

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