The Cows in the Trailer In Front of Me — By Julie Ramon

don’t know the disappointment that waits for them,
but maybe that makes it easier. I always know.
I’ve forgotten my body and the shape it was before
children. It’s all about timing now. I undress quickly,
so my husband won’t see the parts I hate. By now,
I’m supposed to be comfortable with where I am,
but I’m still not sure. I’ve read cows have a magnetic
pull in their bodies, most stand north to south.

A scientist discovered this by accident. He intended to study
the direction people sleep, where tents are placed,
and took note of the cows nearby instead. On my way to work,
my eyes always find them in the fields beneath sheets of fog,
wading belly-high in ponds, grouped near the fence line,
in the metal trailer in front of me. Their black marbles peek
through the slots, their legs search for traction. The fields
where they once roamed hums a new silence.

I leave my child home sick today because I know my boss,
without children, won’t understand me missing two days
in a row. We’ve never understood each other. Today
after class, I keep my office hour and return home.
My boss emails me about staying more than the minimum.
We have different ideas about what minimum means.
I think she secretly wants to fire me, maybe that’s okay
because it’s nearly winter and the fields are empty.

The faded house next to the silver trees sits empty.
No one is home. They said forever, but they didn’t mean it.
Most don’t, except for the cows. If they could say forever,
they would say you can feel it at night how fields glow
after a burn. They would say north to south, it fills the moon
with milk. Here, the fields never forget their warmth,
and though they’re not sure where they’re going,
I know, every road in Kansas leads to you.

~ Julie Ramon

Julie Ramon is an English instructor, specializing in English as a second language, at Pittsburg State University in Kansas. She also teaches academic writing at Crowder College in Missouri. She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Among writing, her interests include baking, sewing, traveling, and garage sales. She lives in Joplin, Missouri with her husband, son and daughter.

Guest Editor Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate and the author or editor of over 20 books. Founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College, where she teaches, she also offers community writing workshops widely, and with Kelley Hunt, Brave Voice writing and singing retreats. She founded the 150 Kansas Poems site where she is thrilled to work with many fine guest editor poets and witness powerful writing from and about the heartland.


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