Today's poem is by Betsy Sholl


Fog dense as a bed sheet hung at the window,
and through that white blindness come
the eerie cries of cows moaning in the field
like a whole mothering universe calling

for its lost sons—trucked off to auction in the night.
On grief's scale, these wails fall lower than
the shriek that stunned us as we passed by
the funeral home just as its door opened,

and a gaunt woman went slack, sinking
to the floor, sobbing for a son killed,
O Lord, no. The funeral men tried to lift her,
But her legs refused to bear that grief's weight.

Why should sorrow rise? Why should it proceed
in orderly fashion out to the waiting
black car? In autumn the sun doesn't rise
above the mountain till nine, the fog

doesn't so much lift as narrow to one long
trail of exhaust, as if the world had layers
and scrims. Steam swirls over hay bales
as the cows feed, suddenly tired, stretching

their necks for one last sob, milk sacks heavy.
And the wailing mother? Perhaps a doctor
injected her with fog to dull the pangs,
and in that nether world she searched, waiting

all night in her son's untouched room, hoping
he'd miss something and return from the afterlife
to ruffle a curtain or rattle a drawer,
coming back from his hairpin curve, the crossed

center line, the road's steep drop. But in fog
everything dissolves—goldenrod, corn stubble,
guardrails. The blackness is so thick it seems
a hand stretched out might never come back.

If grief has a totem, if there are guides
through that lead-weighted air, it must be
these cows bunched at the fence, pressing so close
they'll leave tufts of hair in the barbs. Lulled now,

they stand, barely visible, their solid bodies
on stilt-thin legs, enormous eyes watching
over a world thick with veils the light won't pierce,
not for hours—Lord, not for a long time.

Copyright © 2007 Betsy Sholl All rights reserved
from Rivendell
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

Support Verse Daily
Sponsor Verse Daily!

Home    Archives   Web Monthly Features    About Verse Daily   FAQs  Submit to Verse Daily   Publications Noted & Received  

Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 Verse Daily All Rights Reserved