“I Went In With My Hands Up” by Caleb Barber

Caleb Barber


     “Sweet Jesus as morning the queenly women of our youth!
     The monumental creatures of our summer lust!”
          –Thomas McGrath, “Letter to an Imaginary Friend”

It was a little like that pregnant black heifer
stuck in the aluminum feeder-box sized specifically for calves
–jackknifed, full of muesli and seed, her head turned out
toward the snowy morning.

Me and that 80-year-old Irishman had to lift it,
the several hundred pounds of green metal, knowing,
with our elbows hefted above our divergent hairlines
and our ankles foundered in thick pasture mud, we would be totally exposed.

And she’d be coming out in a hurry, big and taut around the middle.
Us just hoping she wouldn’t lose her calf in the fuss.

It was a little like that. Stopping by that girl’s house
the other night. Except without the help. And this doesn’t come out right.
I would never be so pigheaded as to compare a woman to a cow.
Just to compare the parameters using the inconsequential vessel of simile.

I didn’t even know what horns that heifer bore.
What spawn might be brewing within her black belly.
But it had to be done. She had to be turned loose. I kept my legs.
And one doesn’t count as a stampede.

from Rattle #27, Summer 2007

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