In the muddy pasture at the end of the lane
black cows graze.
Tufts of fur brushstroke their backs
mud-manure cakes their sides
fresh-wet slurry down sturdy shanks
their modest beef-cow udders
lurking turgid in the dark between.
Their occupation of ripping
grass and vetch with a tearing crunch
of looking up to chew to gaze to drop
manure in flat splatter-piles
barely interrupted by my approach—
the nearest of the dozens raise their heads
and turn their massive necks
shifting cracked mud-scales
to level onyx eyes assessing me
still and steady a steamy breath
before without the faintest trace of thought
they swing their shining snouts back down to earth.