Memories of Cows and Bulls:
Small. Exploring in a field by the reservoir, fascinated by wild flowers, worms, humming flies, long wet grass. Unseen, a crowd of young bulls in the distance. Sudden! thunder in the floor – chasing, bulky firm inquisitive hooves, wet noses, towards me, a crowd, my tiny frame. Tumble back to fence, forwards not behind, breath high, wet face, fall through long wet grass, wind in my ears, scramble over. Safe. Hate cows.
Ireland. Young adult. Green, rolling lane, early evening. Scent of retreating sunlight and seasalt. Hand in hand. A small field, cow and calf. Calf walks to mother, nose touch. Tenderness close to melancholy. Mother licks side of calf with small strokes. Silence in their circle. Moment without breath.
Mid-Adult. Sudden illness. Walking, pain, reduced to shadows of steps. Daily therapeutic up and downs with embarrassing stick along the lane under the curve of Ditchling Beacon. Flanked by animals, left to right, sheep, cows, horses. Scent of flowers and green. Pain, up and down, side to side. Forward step by step. Look right to see large, stolid body of cow standing in buttercup field. Stop to gaze. Lean. Breathe. Such a large, firm body, she stretches, curves backwards and sideways to lick flank. Such a tender motion, such grace. Delicacy in large, sinuous frame so touching. So quiet. A small light of sun on my back.
Adult. Cornwall. Small house only just inland. Take tea out to garden. Whole hand of sun comforts head, a memory, stroking to face. Wild, young bulls by wall at end of garden. I’m larger now, less afraid. Though glad of the wall. They munch garden flowers, almost skid down wall, nudge and budge, feckless hooves, snort, puff, naughty eyes. Energy of children.
Present. Daily walks up to top of lane. So glad of it. Walk up to hill. Long view over valley and distant cars spiral. Lean on gate, catch breath. Cows rest quietly, moon filled eyes. Proud horns down in the muscle man arm shape. Tearing at hay through the bars with tender lips and teeth like stones. Heavy, weighted bodies lump down to soil. Stare. Ears flick. Flies land, bounce off. Mud and earth. Something sure.
© C.E. Rennie, 2013