It Was the Idea of The Calf I Loved

by Diane Seuss

Diane Seuss

It was the idea of the calf I loved
and not the calf though it licked me with its tongue
covered in taste buds like barnacles. I'd sleep with my head
on its warm side. Pretend to sleep. Pretend to like to be alone
though I wished I was in the fieldstone house
with the narrow winding staircase and a spigot in the wall that gushed
lemonade, playing caroms with the old folks. The calf came
with a story. It had been rejected by its mother.
I liked the idea of feeling sorry for it and tying orange ribbons
around its ears. Its black watery eye, a planet
of black water and no continents. If you sailed
that sea you'd have to sail forever. When it got the bloat and died
I invented sadness, reached down into my emptiness
like a wishing well and drew up a small wooden bucket
of tears. They knocked down the lean-to with the green tractor.
The calf was never mine, though I said it was.

Last updated March 11, 2023