I muck actual bull shit into a four meter deep pit
Below the stables that are home to 55 dairy cows
On a small island in a lake in the middle of Holland.
If you didn’t know the dignity of the land,
You might not even call it an island, just
A collection of fields and small canals.
I’m wearing a pink tank top my mom’s best friend and
My namesake gave my mom.
The shirt feels tight with meaning and the
Sawdust covering the front is suddenly bothersome.
Through the huge barn door, I can see various songbirds and
The eurasian magpie, which my friend says is the only
Beautiful bird in his country.
I’m thinking about the first line of my memoir.
This is merely what happened when the problem began
to look like a life-sized problem.
Later, after the cows have been fed,
Their heads draped over the edge of the stalls,
Their tongues, long like giraffes’, eating the hay urgently,
I sit outside on a concrete slab in the middle of the grass,
Writing on the back of my Wendell Berry book, and
I wonder how these words push their way out of me,
Onto a page of paper torn out of a notebook, and
Into this world.
The cows are eating as if it were
The most important thing,
Which, I guess, it is, right then.
Learning from example, urgently, I take in this moment,
This life-sized moment:
The cold concrete under me, the wet grass against my boots,
The pen in my fingers, the words in my throat,
The cows in the barn, the magpies gliding,
The blue sky slowly darkening,
The new day coming.