I and the Village

Blank fruit slices

and the red-brimmed hat,

cow on her way to slaughter,

and she smells

buds and grapes and blossoms.

The cow knows the man

needs and the needs of the

cow are care.

The cow will be cared for and the man, fed.

The cow knows she used

to be milk and touched

every day by hands

that felt soft to her.

The peasant and the woman

go to work.

The sickle.

The hoe.

Peasants are peasants

and nose to nose are the

man and the cow,

cow nose a suggestion

and man nose pointing out

in greeting.

Everyone is red and green

and submerged.

My grandparents, one

was clerking at a drugstore,

one was building model planes, and both

walked faster than I

could through midtown,

the UN to Natural History’s totem poles,

east side to west,

to the theater,

and back to the hotel with the key

card, the first one dipped in and out to

open a door.

I saved the soaps that said, “Manhattan.”

My grandparents, who

recited during mass,

but I never knew if they

believed in God.

My grandpa who laughed

like squeaky springs,

my grandma who

seemed wary of loving us.

My grandparents who

ate plenty of fruit and switched

to margarine.

Their dogs always on the

floor, the needlepoint of the

brown sailor on the wall, and

the rows of graduation photos,

my endless aunts and uncles,

and I thought, Someday

I will have one, and

my hair then and my look

will say something about who I am.

My grandparents who knew

the rosary and crossed

themselves before they ate.

I watched.

They had deer in their backyard.

We watched for them at breakfast

from the high second-floor kitchen,

down the hill, the deer

might be there,

animals too big to be wild

and too thin to be strong.

There is so much red

you’ll be afraid of it going wrong.

The cow knows and

the face knows and

only one eye is necessary.

The man’s eye is

a dime.

The cow’s eye is zero.

The peasant and the woman

they are only going to work

but the cow and the man

have to look at each other,

and the green under them,

at least, makes the smell tolerable,

the smell of what happens.

The man wears a cross and

the church wears a cross,

and nobody’s about to die,

not yet,

not yet,

not yet.

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