I drank a pint of stout with my dead dad
in McGlynn’s last night. He was singing
with the boys just like he did when I was a tot.
He could do bawdy tunes with his brothers
on Saturday nights and on Sunday mornings,
tenor hymns. He never saw this land of his father’s ―
never saw much of his father either. When I curled up
in the bend of his knees on the sofa, my Dad spun
endless dramas of dancing bulls, sly Queens,
simple princesses. A lone boy, he drank milk
fresh from cows on the farm where he boarded.
He told of new cow pies warming his bare
boy's feet on frosty winter mornings.
This may be why, when in the company
of these critters, I crow. Mellow cows
and their noble beaus, bulls, gentle in courtship ―
the cow always wills when. Their young
dart about with big eyes, new to the outdoors.
Cows give wet kisses, warm milk, rhythmically
streamed to stainless steel pails. It is their bad fortune
to be unable to bat flies from their eyes or scratch
their behinds in the field, unless near to a rowan tree.
Though common, they are Irish, these Joycean
silky kine ― innocent nannies to humankind.
Like a rowan tree ― he kept his family, received
the gold watch, was proud of his daughters ―
my little sister and me. My Dad did not
cast a cold eye…on death. I promised him
my ashes, also, would be sprinkled
with wind, warbler and buzzing bee,
beneath the rowan tree, in view
of a grazing cow or two.
― appeared in Prairie Schooner, December 2011