Thursday, April 16, 2015

My New Neighbor

Looking at a cow one morning last month,
I wondered if the congregation of flies
on the eye of the cow
stared at the eye of the cow
with their compound eyes
and if I had ever seen this many eyes
in this small a space or had a thought
in which the word eye occurred so obsessively.
I wanted to touch the cow
and the cow seemed to ask to be touched,
but when I moved toward the fence,
the cow waddled away and the flies waddled with it.
The cow had a metal tag in its ear,
orange with the black numeral 42.
This will help them make hamburger of the cow,
which is the calling of cows in these parts,
help sellers and buyers and loaders of cows
note the selling and buying and loading of this cow.
I confessed to 42 that I eat cheeseburgers.
I had never addressed my food
before it had reached the plate and technically
not even then. What would I say to chicken teriyaki
by way of lessening the blow or making it feel welcome?
42 has large brown eyes and lives in a field
beside a small Pentecostal church.
I guess this makes 42 a God-fearing cow
and all cows have large brown eyes if 73 and 12
are a fair sampling. They pretty much do
what 42 does seven days a week, which is eat
and which suggests they are atheists after all.
Because of this philosophical bent,
I have taken to asking 42 if agnosticism
is the most reasonable position, my thought being
that the mind cannot dispense with the notion
of a first cause. When 42 blinks at my question,
the flies lift off and come back to what must be
their home planet. It is comforting to talk
to large animals, whether they listen or not.
I said, it is comforting to talk to large animals,
whether they listen or not.

~Bob Hicok, "My New Neighbor" from This Clumsy Living 

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