M is for Moo

To laugh is human — but to moo bovine.

I had such big plans at Christmas. I was going to make teeny collages for all my friends.

Anna loves cows so I made her a cow collage (a cow-lage?). It ended up being one of only two that I mailed out.

She sent me a picture of it on her refrigerator.

I love that it’s right beneath the note telling her that she is an amazing student teacher. I bet she is.


A while ago, while trying to work on using metaphor, I wrote a poem about cows, using Billy Collins’ poem, Litany, as a model.

Bovine

You are the map and the Atlas,
the Big Mac and the shake.
You are a javelin held aloft by a strong arm,
and a smooth wet stone in the hand of a little boy.
You are the fresh-mown grass after summer rain,
and the thunder that preceded the shower.

However, you are not the purr of a kitten,
the wag of a dog’s tail,
or kraa-coo-coo-coo of a mourning dove.
And you are certainly not the whisper of butterfly wings.
There is just no way that you are butterfly wings.

It is possible that you are the flock of sheep,
maybe even the laying hen,
but you are not even close
to being the eagle hang-gliding overhead.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the towering pine
nor the creeping myrtle.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the garbled voice in the drive-through speaker.

I also happen to be the blistered toe in a new shoe,
the frayed pink leash on the dog,
and the unmailed letter waiting for a stamp.

I am also the fuzzy blanket tucked around a child
and the hand-thrown mug filled with coffee.
But don’t worry, I’m not the map and the Atlas.
You are still the map and the Atlas.
You will always be the map and the Atlas,
not to mention the Big Mac and–somehow–the shake.


I felt the need to apologize.


Dear Billy Collins,

I’m sorry that I ripped off your poem. It’s just that I don’t put enough metaphor into my poems and this little exercise is such good practice.

I was thinking about the cows down the road. Cows that aren’t cows because I know cows are female and I’m pretty sure these are male, although I haven’t ventured in to confirm my suspicions.

The chief “cow”, a cranky fellow, comes to the fence and shakes his horns at me when I pass. He wants me to know that he’s tough and armed and that I shouldn’t mess with him.

Years ago, when cows complete with udders grazed in that field, they would nibble grass out of my hand and I loved to feel their smooth wet noses.

So I was thinking about cows (that aren’t cows), and the things they are and aren’t, and wrote this.

I hope you don’t mind.

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7 thoughts on “M is for Moo

  1. On a particularly rough day of practicum, the note above was left on my desk by a student. She wouldn’t have known it was a hard day, and was a good reminder of God’s faithfulness and encouragement. Only the most prized little gifts make it to the refrigerator showcase, you know : )

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