In the dark, waiting once again
with calves for dry green hay,
listening for the diesel engine

climbing at an idle in the canyon
far below, they dream of grass,
tall thick blades caressing legs,

briskets and bellies, udders
full, the sweet scent of cuds
swirling in waves of plenty—

but we can’t see beyond
the dry and dusty moment:
down limbs beneath skeletons

of oak trees given up
their last leaves with rising
dust trails of quail, families

leaving in a cloud for thin cover.
Cut deep and soft, cow track
highways all lead to water,

meander on efficient grades up
and over short-cropped ridges—
naked waves in shades of brown.


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