Uppity Bovine: A Series of Poems

This image features a cow licking a blue teacup that has purple flowers painted on it.
Illustration by Sofia Rower.

Uppity Bovine

I'm in the china shop,
my glasshooves chanting. I clip and clop
and rub my rump along the antiques
behaving like hay after first thaw.
I've had to compose myself twice.
Once, when I couldn't lick the grass
or  flowers off the teacups.  Then again,
when I was herded deeper and deeper.
Each tail-twitch brings grief to the
owner who raises a hand to his forehead
wondering Why is she here?  Who let
her in? My snortings only make it
worse. Can't he see these aisles are too
narrow for turningthat I'll probably
have to go all the way through?


          A Woman Bleaches Cotton   
          Fabrics Offshore
          The woman in the wide vat
          bleaches fabric hip deep
          bent toward gobs of fading
          cotton each a cloud refusing
          to stay down but someone
          half an ocean off needs white
          sailcloth more than life itself
          what is there now but this
          fading to the color of the
          snowy egret billowing past
          the open window        and she’s
       told she was given             hands
    and arms     to bleach the souls
           of distant boats           the wind
cracking their sails      the sails         specks  
       on an ocean
                 much smaller
                           than she’d imagined

A Girl Like Me  

       for Malala Yousafzai

Let’s be sure I’ve got this right—  
I am standing, say, in a certain
place. My place. At a certain time.  

And I’m a certain sex and you 
have a gun. I disagree with you
over whether I could learn something.

Did I mention you have a gun
and you’re afraid of what will
happen if I don’t keep quiet about 

the thing we disagree on and go
away? Then you can raise your gun,
take aim at my head, a tug of your

index finger settling in your head
the disagreement between us. Next,
you can turn and walk away. I can

crumple and be changed. You
can have dinner, then go to sleep,
somehow, and somehow I can,

after much pain and repair, leave
my place, move to another where
it’s less certain I’ll be shot for 

believing I could learn something.  
Now, do I have this right?

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