A Dent

In memory of Michael Allen

The height of one stall at odds with the next in your grandfather's byre
where cattle allowed themselves to speak only at Yule
gave but little sense of why you taught us to admire
the capacity of a three-legged stool

to take pretty much everything in its stride,
even the card-carrying Crow who let out a war-whoop
now your red pencil was poised above my calf-hide
manuscript like a graip above a groop.

The depth of a dent in the flank of your grandfather's cow
from his having leaned his brow
against it morning and night

for twenty years of milking by hand
gave but little sense of how distant is the land
on which you had us set our sights.

by Paul Muldoon

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