#9 | Tales of milking cows with Grama
deep etched, the skin less wrinkled at the wrist,
where the scar remains
from when the hay wagon toppled over,
she smiles, creases in her brow, remembering
always keep working—
idleness doesn’t favor—
whistle while you work
that’s what echoes the empty house
where her soft footfalls sometime pass
a rhyme in her step
let me tell you what
milking cows at 4 am taught me—
she’d tell me—bouncing me on her lap
like a galloping horse
and I a child of 12—erupting with giggles.
she’d watch me fall between her legs,
until we’d gallop along—horses on a journey
with sunsets to lead us.
The first time she fell on me,
I knew she felt sorry, Ol’ Bessie—
she looked back over her shoulder, mid-cud-chew,
with a startled face—
and that time I milked Henry,
with his tail swishin’ anxiously—
I should have known,
he kicked the pail from underneath me
when I stood to grab it he caught me
with his hoof, sent me flying into the
I couldn’t get out, you see.
Ew, Grama! Gross!
And I leaned back in her lap, wiggling my toes,
forcing her to bounce me—
The only one home that day was little Fred,
because he had rickets.
It was my turn to take care of him that day—
all the others were at the schoolhouse
So I had to wait for sunset,
until someone could help me climb out.
The third time it happened,
we were in an open pasture filled with purple violets—
a sea of blooms.
I was leading her home with the rope,
but she was as stubborn as a mule.
They say that, you know,
because a mule never does want to listen.
As I tugged on her rope,
her head tilted forward.
When I came to her rear end, we were very close,
Daisy and I—
I gave her a little push.
Not a budge.
So then I decided to milk her,
because I knew it might calm her down.
As soon as I began to tug at her teats,
she took one step and moved sideways,
toppling over on top of me.
I lay flat in the grass,
but before I could blink—
she turned her head back to look at me
and stood right up again—
as if she knew.
I wasn’t hurt at all,
but I still remember to this day,
the look she gave me. As if to say—
Pardon me! I’m sorry!
The chair began rocking again and
Grama stared out the glass window
where some chickadees gathered at the feeder,
and the smallest one splashed itself in a puddle from the recent rain.