BOY SINGING TO CATTLE
Their white Hereford faces
face the white boards
and the boy beyond,
eyes steady, ears cupped
to drink at this pure source
singing from a deep well inside him
tender for their trust
and curious to touch.
His voice without command
opens a gate
they move toward.
Not the mothers,
face down in their all-consuming grind,
only the calves, one hoof at a time,
push back the frontier of instinct
to come toward the human
who charms their simple, beastly hearts
closer by degrees to that patient hand
outstretched across the fence.
His slightest touch
wakes ancestral fear—
they bolt, scatter,
turn, wait, listen,
begin again this slow wave
toward the shore of their
primal, bovine sea and a star
suddenly brighter in their darkness.
IN THE PALOUSE
The thin, semi-desert air
gives up the heat of summer swiftly.
Like stepping away from a campfire,
a chill meets you, and with it
the sweet, fertile smell
of wheat straw growing damp,
erotic in the folds of the hills
slipping into darkness. Sounds
begin to carry as on water through the still air,
a voice across the highway by some acoustic magic
speaks quietly in the ear, and one by one
stars appear in the auditorium of heaven
like people seating themselves for a show.
Standing outside, looking into the lit house,
to that world oblivious to dusk, lost
in its whisky glow and conversation,
standing in the cool twilight
growing darker as the day flees west,
soft curves of silhouetted hills fading,
pores in the earth sweating dew,
you hear the tall grain stir and whisper
come away from the human
and be of the earth, of the dusk,
of the silence waiting to the heard,
go into the venereal hills,
at home in the house of night.