“The Calf in the Pantry” by Mark D. Hart

Mark D. Hart


At the base of cream-colored cabinets,
the milk of his newborn face gazing
toward the kitchen, the brown rug
of his body shivering on the linoleum,
unlicked and slick with the balm
of his intrauterine life, the abandoned calf,
legs bent and untried beneath him,
lay at the feet of the very utility sink where,
after the fall butchering,
cold cow hearts would be soaking in a pail.

I imagined Dad in coveralls
carrying the calf in his arms from the barnyard
just like the plaster shepherd
in the Christmas crib scene.

We kids dabbed him dry with towels,
eager for the feel of him. We mixed
warm water with formula and fed him
from a bucket with a huge latex nipple
protruding from its side, his throat
greedily sucking and swallowing.
The rose bush behind the house
scratched on the window pane
buffeted by a cold March wind.

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

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