HERMANN: A cow must observe, and a cow must speak. The cow will commit to that which the cow feels necessary. Years ago, I saved this very cow as a calf. Yes, he was once my own lower leg. We had to depart one another, torn ligaments and flesh do not always have the will to reconnect, though we sent flowers and chocolate with fake names and false sentiment. Unfortunately, a sharp blade is stronger than any attempt to patch up a broken body.
Hermann delicately draws back his kimono to reveal a prosthetic leg with the control of someone who has examined the controller on the children’s television series Thomas the Tank Engine. He has waited for this moment and his research has proven enough.
We had grown together and I couldn’t bear to see him go, I have never liked anything bear related even from childhood. I took my severed calf to the water, the local pool, and he began to swim. I fell asleep by the lapping waves of the children’s pool (I could not test my own leg with dangerous depths) and was shaken awake by pool attendants angered by my streaming blood. I was angered by my blood also, no semblance of control or cleanliness. They escorted me from the vicinity after I had collected as much blood as I could hold, which was very little, and I sat on a curb side mourning the loss of so much which was once a part of me. As I wept into a dirty handkerchief, a pool attendant called to me asking if I had lost a calf in the water. I nodded overwhelmed by all I had endured, and they led out a black cow with amethyst eyes. I was not sure whether my own calf had transformed, stronger than even apart from me or if this was simply a cow enthused by public swimming places. I took him by the lead in an effort to acquire something and we embraced, though the calf struggled without arms. My calf and I lived together but felt the distance that only different bodies can cause. What we lacked in closeness we salvaged in speech. The calf could not seem to grasp the English language so I become fluent in cow. As a child, he spoke in short haiku, and limerick. I discouraged the latter as I found them tiresome and simple. Perhaps I was too harsh on him in his younger years, there was a lyricism, a sense of beauty I did not understand back then. He was like a young leaf and I, an old tree. Never knowing that the leaf could one day be more than a leaf. Though most leaves do fall to the ground and shrivel in the dirt, so I was making informed decisions. I’ve never been one for basing outcomes on slight chances. I wonder now, if I have stopped my own calf from something bigger than subjective taste.
Dorothy smiles in the background at a story she has heard many times, whilst Monty looks on with the face of someone who is watching a tiresome film they do not connect with, for context, perhaps something the opposite of A Bug’s Life.
On the night of the infidelity, my calf, now a large cow, was walking in the countryside as he often did in his younger years searching for inspiration. Poems do not write themselves, and without hands it was I who acted as his scribe. So, it is I that writes the poems really. He who writes does not need to write only that which graces his own thoughts. I have never written my own thoughts, writing letters home is impossible. It was perhaps a blessing that I severed my calf, for through him I can now speak, as we are one. My family think I am overly fond of a good feed and sleep, a lush field and the first lap of water in the eve. My calf wandered into the field that neighboured your own, and watched bodies move like worms in the moonlight. Which sounds quite grotesque, but he only speaks in nature terms and refused a rephrasing, though luckily allowed the removal of the term “the vigour of a wet worm”. As you can imagine, bodies slick in the moonlight with sweat inspired him enough to wander home immediately. He has an incredible sense of direction. He woke me from my slumber with a steady hoof and I began to write his thoughts.
~ END SCENE ~
Words by Bryce Newton, Art by Clare Moran
This article first appeared in print volume 88 edition 2 STOP