In the middle of night I wake
to a dying cow, holy
even in its pain, as it stands
on a hillside of fescue,
split open from neck
to underbelly.

She’s rotting from the inside
out. A terrible sight.
Only an animal has the dumb
courage to walk around
with its intestines hanging
ready to explode.

You and I see the gaping
wound. We smell the stench.
Neither of us knows
what to do. If we had a rifle
and were brave, we could
cleanly put all of us—you and me
and the cow—out of this misery.

But all we have is dynamite
and my dad’s old brown Thunderbird,
left also to rot, forgotten
in the cow field. We
wire the car into a bomb, argue
who will be the one
to turn the key.

Why does it never occur to us
to leave the dynamite and the cow,
to drive away? Because we need
exploding carnage to know the death
is done. After all, what’s love
but hearts and stomachs,
blood and guts?

Author: Denton Loving