from " Haruspicating on Valley --View Farm
SACRIFICE OF THE OLD GENTLEMAN
When our two great herd sires fought in the burroak grove
Their bellows disturbed my sleep. I rolled in a heat
Of black hooves stomping the bottomlands. I woke in a sweat
Saying, "Mother, what is it?" My father and brothers were gone.
"I'm afraid," she said, "that our sires have broken out long
Ago in the night. Oh, I hope that nothing is wrong."
Our great Hereford bulls! Their fierce heads were as strong
As the iron bars of their gates, their bodies as thickly
Bound as the earth they stormed. I ran off quickly.
My father with bullwhip and gun, my brothers in boughs,
And I on a limb above them, all up in the oak,
Stared a short ways off. Deep growls still broke
And sank in a tunnel of throat. The foam-bloodied nose
Of one bull hung from his curls on a forehead of hot Dust.
And his loud dull eyes, bleared cannon shot,
Fell on the other's entrails, trampled in leaves.
There the Old Gentleman, Prince Bill, Second, The Great,
Growled his proud way toward death, his enormous weight
Plunged to the ground he had stalked and pawed and shook.
The horn wound in his side was the single eye
With which my brothers and I could watch him die.
1 t took both tractors and the neighbor's chains,
Ringing the country stones, to pull him down
Into the ditch where those awful weeds have grown.
His calves were gentle, and the cows he rode
Became more gentle. Still, his awesome head
Arose on the horns of war. Now he is dead.
He shook his anger and iron sex in a wreath
Of forehead curls. But when his deep-tongued breath
Exploded, he charged the trembling woods with death
And so located, stalking before his grave,
Dimensions of himself. Now, scrawny and weak,
Our crows and mourning doves and coyotes speak
Those tired themes which none of us escape.
Sighs, croaks, and howls beset our greatest voice
With common years of indiscriminate noise.