Darkness without voices merges with a mind’s dimensions—what is

and what could be, who are you, where are we.


From the field’s unvisible perimeters, we call to them in two descending notes:

a beckoning, a command. Music of our pact. Evidence of the hour. Voices—ours,

theirs, the wind’s—alternate, coincide, arrange night’s field, until the bell cow

clangs and all the mothers tilt to their feet to follow. One at a time they follow,

single file, though the path is wide, all hoof-rhythm and hip-sway, marching

in nearly the same order, day after day, to keep a tacit pattern they’ve devised.


I have a job today, and it is to bring up the rear, and so I circle the pasture one last time.

Caboose cow Nazik lingers, watches the herd, watches me.


Go on, I urge, but now she has anchored her nose in a clump of grass.


Positioning myself just behind her, and far enough to the side that she can see me, I wait for her

to get the message. Her herd is advancing into darkness, drawing away, distance gaping between us.


Let’s go, Nazik. No more music.


But she is munching, she is busy, she is studiously ignoring me.


Raising the prod in my hand, I nudge her haunch, hesitantly and to no effect, then tap at her pin bone.

Zilch—she just huffs her nostrils. You’re impossible, I think, and take a few strides forward to spell

with my legs, alright then, I’ll leave you here.


Keeping her nose to the grass, all casual, she ambles forward, toward me.


Another step of mine, and she steps, too.


We make the whole journey to the barn this way, two stubbornnesses.

She will not let me usurp her role; she will not leave me behind.