Last Night I Dreamed Rain
The clouds quickened under a wax
moon, then settled around plastic palm
fronds. My truck stuck in river bed
three, and just like the time it slipped
into a ditch, I tried to push it out
alone, putting it in gear, then straining
under the bumper, only this time the Tale
Teller arrived on tractor without my call.
Voiceless, I accepted his pull, the Fence
Builders heying from a distance. The damp Cat
rubbed my bare legs while I smoked
a filterless cigarette and the Blonde Collie Bitch chased
white ponies around the yard. A blue-eyed
blonde woman, her hair plastered
to her face, her freckles sheening, a scotch
on the rocks in her hand, offered me a blow
job while I barbequed blood
sausage and tenderloin. A pebble-sized
coal, meant to sizzle the meat, rolled
off the brick platform and plopped
into the sand, burrowed under my shoe and came
to rest against the dry grass edging the lawn.
I poured out half a cold beer to extinguish the flames,
and then it began to rain.
The Horseback Vet
My white pickup was splashing mud
when I lept out
near the wood in lot twenty-one.
A cow was lying on her side,
her eyes rolled back,
throat gurgling air.
A calf was stuck halfway out
of the uterus, bloody faced, tongue lolled,
crimson bubbles popping from its nostrils.
I grabbed it by the forelegs
and tugged it out, cleared its nose
and throat with my fingers.
I pressed on the cow’s chest
every five seconds, then stroked
them both and whispered reassurances;
but I feared I had arrived too late
to prevent them from lifting
into eucalypti leaves.
Then He rode up behind me,
jumped from his horse,
syringes strapped to his belt.
He rubbed placenta on her nose
grabbed her by the tail and spun her around
so she could fully scent her calf.
We watched her wobble to her feet,
the calf rolled over onto his stomach
and pricked up his ears.
All this ass kicking and horse riding
and calf pulling and gate lifting and truck
pushing has herniated my abdomen.
The fleeting rain does not puddle as
it did last month. Constants are
falling fenceline and the need
for grass. I have been here before.
I have been here before. The new
gaucho enters my office for the first
time, and I have seen his face
somewhere. Here. His black sombrero,
bombachas, and silver spurs; his white beach
hat, blue jeans, and tennis shoes. Again, again.
The mail lady’s red hair keeps me supplied
with stamps. Me Tarzan, you Jane.
A rice shoot leans against my desk
lamp, and outside, wheat is shin
high. Cut the thistle, cut the thistle.
The security chain we had for months
on gate twenty-eight seems
can be slipped right over the post.
Have you ever had brain cells zapped
by an electric fence? The Cultivators
are fumigating again. A beetle falls
upon my notebook. I must keep
the calves from vaginal death,
and the cows exploding from bloat.
Stephen Page is the author of The Timbre of Sand and Still Dandelions. He holds a BA from Columbia University and an MFA from Bennington College. He is the recipient of The Jess Cloud Memorial Prize for Poetry. He loves to spend time with his family, teach, ranch, and stroll through the woods.