This is the Cow
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