Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2011

The comfort of hay

by John Keenan

What a cow!
Click, click, click, you’d pace the aisle between
our library desks, poised in your black and white
checked suit and heels, inciting terror and desire.
I never let on you were my aunt.
‘Nice rack,’ one boy whispered, you turned, fluttered
Soft lashes and gored him with a twist of wit.
 
Poor cow,
now you’re happy to get through your gate,
swaying with the weight of shopping bags,
content with the kitchen’s square safeness,
you graze on buttered toast.
Ruminations start as prayer, then stall and
fold completely like weary legs at night.
 
Cowed,
But how? Not age, not force, as if a crazy
gaucho branded you his own, More’s the pity,
you’d say. Disappointments have hedged you in,
your milk wasted on strangers,
or the insidious herding of loved ones
who’ve steered you away from holes in the fence.
 
Bullish,
I need answers because, steaming at dusk,
some few rows back from you,
I fear the rattle of the alpine bell
that summons me along the drove towards
the resigned companionship of herds and
the comfort of hay in winter barns.

Added: 18.04.2011

Judges' comments on this poem

04.05.2011

Wonderful poem. It takes the reader through scenes and gives a story without saying the story outright.

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