poem index

This is the Cow

Chad Davidson
She must be milked every morning so that she will produce milk, and the milk must be 
boiled in order to be mixed with coffee to make coffee and milk.
			—Gabriel Garcia Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Imagine the years being sucked out 
of you, the losses so numerous 
you counted gains instead: the shiver

of holy water, your quinceañiera, 
burnt cedar, the faith in the cross-
town taxi in Mexico, not knowing derecha

from izquierda. Think of all the shattered
glasses, cursing the sky, women you keep
yearning for. You taste the slow arrival

of the moment only to watch it fade
anxiously. Now think of absence, staring
at some beast in a field and saying never

have I seen this thing in front of me.
When the cow moos you will understand
the simple lexicon of the green

in its mouth, the dynamics of the jaw like 
nothing you can’t recall, have never seen.
And what impossible eyes--unlike yours--

swelling with your losses and successes;
they too are losses, ready to escape
your skin like the sweets of a piñata,

the dull thud of the instant still there,
when you realize that to know this beast
by name is to lose this beast, lose it

hopelessly in the catcombs
of names for other things: the coffee bean,
your blood, the ripe guava, penitence,

the left bank of the river, crumbling,
where you learned cow from awkward profile,
milk-heavy, its one eye, reflecting.

Poem from Consolation Miracle, reprinted with permission of Southern Illinois University Press

Chad Davidson

Chad Davidson

by this poet

poem
In the pewless church of San Juan Chula,
a Neocatholic Tzozil Indian
wrings a chicken’s neck. Through piñoned air,

stars from tourist flashbulbs flame, reflecting 
in the reddened eyes, in the mirrors
statuary cling to, inside their plate-

glass boxes. A mother fills a shot-
glass with fire. Others offer up
poem
They know that death is merely of the body
not the species, know that their putrid chitin
is always memorable. We call them ugly
with their blackened exoskeletons,
their wall-crawlings as we paw at them.
Extreme adaptability, we say.
And where there’s one there’s probably a million
more who lie and laugh
poem
The burner and the blackout crave you: pilot
of heat, purveyor of the innocent
candle and cigarette, light we tamed
then fed to the night. Cupped, inviolate,
a winter moth, a prayer we never sent
away, you live in seconds what we name
a life, a sudden cleansing. You Prometheus
come as toothpick, the false fire