“The Cow I Didn’t Eat Today” by Lollie Butler

Lollie Butler


I’m in love with the cow I didn’t eat today.
The one chomping off dandelion heads
out there somewhere.

Solid as a hardware store, brindled brown
like her rabbit neighbors, she has simple tastes
and prefers grass—not for a high but high in fiber—
and a warm hand to relieve her of her trunk-load of milk.

I’m in love up to my udder—if I had one—
with that particular cow McDonald’s didn’t pick
out of a lineup of bovine pulchritude.
She’s the square deal that didn’t become a Happy Meal.

I love this cow from its bunioned hooves
to the seventeenth hair on the top of her fly-swishing tail.

You can smack your double-whammy cheeseburgers,
not for a moment considering
where the slim wafer of cereal-enhanced meat came from.

You can concoct meatloaf made of ground round
not thinking about round rumps and you can
pick your teeth with the soup bone,
but the cow—like the poor—will always be with us.

At a later time, when we explore the distant planet
that has for an eternity signaled us
through the faint clang of cow bells,

we’ll find cows, intelligent beyond our ken,
conducting tutorials for lesser beings
on the benefits of eating organic. The cows

will greet our spaceships, and you
will be herded to a fenced-in corral,
wading through muck up to your wobbly knees,

while the cow I am in love with
will offer me a seat at the head of the table
and treat me to a special bowl of ice cream.

from Rattle #67, Spring 2020


Lollie Butler: “I began to find poetry a necessity when, as a child, I was visited at my 3rd-grade classroom by none other than Robert Frost. The old codger read a few poems and told us the pen was a mighty instrument. I believed him then and have since. Not long ago, I was thrilled to be a winner in the Robert Frost Foundation Award in poetry—what a coincidence!”

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