“Muscled Loins and Haunches” by Bil Lepp

Bil Lepp


Charolais was four when she figured out that
she was named for a breed of cattle—
in a town where everybody
knew everybody’s business
and everybody knew everything about cows.

When she was seven
the older boys at school
told her that
Charolais are a breed of cow known for their
heavily muscled
Of course that brought laughter from the older boys
and titters from the older girls.

But, she’d already learned to fight
both boys and men
at home.

She was beautiful and kind
with narrow hips
and a small chest
for which she was thankful.
She didn’t need utters in junior high. Nobody does.

Because she was named for a breed
with muscled loins and haunches
it was generally accepted by her peers
that she was a slut
because that’s what the teenage boys were hoping
when they pointed out
the muscled loins and haunches
and that’s what the girls wanted her to be
Charolais was so pretty with her narrow hips and small chest.
Of course she never had braces on her teeth,
but the crooked little teeth really just made her that much cuter.

She could have given in.
She could have been what everybody expected
from a girl like her
from a family like hers.

She could have left town
and told people her name was Charlie. Or Leah.
Or Sue. (That, of course, was her little joke.)

But she stuck around
and married a good boy,
the Barth’s boy,
and lived the same ordinary life
that people with their secrets and shames on the
in town where everybody knows everybody’s business
and everybody thinks they know everything about cows.

from Rattle #30, Winter 2008
Tribute to Cowboy & Western Poetry

Rattle Logo