Two Poems About Cows
Two poetic views on pastoralism.
Being a dairy farmer, the well being of my livestock is always a concern. This first poem was written about not only the burden of caring for these animals, but also the tradition and pride that is involved in this labor of love and at times, hate.
Ode to a Good Man, Or is it Old?
The sun meets you, greets you in the morning,
The air is brisk and your bones ache.
A short walk, each step routine.
You enter the cave, the grave, and light bursts through
Morning dew gives way to mildew.
The beasts of burden moan with discontent and hunger.
You satisfy their needs, and ask them for their blessing
You visit each one, taking, they don’t seem to mind.
Their liquid gold, or is it fools gold rather, flows like blood.
You do as your fathers done.
You do this not by choice,
It’s all you’ve ever known,
It’s everything the old man has taught you.
It’s all you have to pass on.
Cold and harsh, or is it hard and wise?
A man closer to the land
A man deep in tradition
Pastoralism is certainly not a trade exclusive to dairy farmers in North America. This next poem reflects a quite different point of view on this livelihood and is based off of my personal visits with Maasai people in southern Kenya.
A Watching Eye
Across the savanna,
Never too far…
You watch over them.
As Hansel and Gretel.
Only concerned with dinner,
When they are on the menu.
Blood and flesh,
But something more.
Driven by their need,
Never without water
They depend on you,
As you live off them.
A partnership etched through time
They give you life
And your life a meaning,
Beating with pride.
Only as shepherds
A life only thought,
To live in a book
Of earlier times;
For a man to depend,
On the rain and the sun.
And an animal,
We see along the highway
Through an electrified fence.
Beneath the tribal skies of the Mara,
No ng'ombe goes neglected.