After Reading John Clare on Thoughts of A Cow

Tom Hennen

There are deep hoofprints in the soft ground around the
wooden water tank. A steel windmill with its fan blades spin-
ning free in the summer wind. No water pumping because the
connecting lever is not in gear and the tank is full. Thick green
moss floats here and there on the water’s surface. Blue sky and
white clouds reflect in the pool, pulled out of heaven in a piece
just the right size to fit the old round wooden tank. The cow
yard is empty, the cows in the far pasture, strolling its hills for
grass, slowly, with quiet pleasure as if on a boulevard in Paris,
France. Nothing about a cow yard enters their thoughts until
late afternoon when I come with the dog to fetch them home.
Then they amble, dust stirred from its summer stupor by their
hard hooves that kick up the smell of dirt and powdered dung.
After the long walk from the pasture they remember they are
thirsty. Now in a hurry, they crowd around the water tank.
They drink and drink. When one raises her head, water and
setting sunlight drip from nose and muzzle. With a tin cup I
drink icy water from the pump and pour some into a pan for
the dog. The cows are dry of milk until fall. Now all they need
do is sleep. From the east dusk is sliding across the fields. Frogs
and crickets are tuning up, fireflies cannot wait and are air-
borne before the sun is completely down. The summer night
settles weightless as a feather on the grass. The windmill turn-
ing, cold water running out of the iron pipe into the tank, far-
off bells, and the murmur of starlight falling on water.