Fall 2011, Volume 11

Poetry by TR Poulson

 Dry Bones

Oh, dry bones. . . I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live.
                                                                               — Ezekiel 37:4–6

The vet pulls out the second calf, hind legs and tail
first, and splats it near its dead twin.  His hands
rip the membrane, feel the chest.  He looks

for a nostril's twitch.  Then he tells the girl
and her father, “If you'd called me this morning,
I might have saved this one.”  The girl, whose job

it was to check the heavy cows, looks from her dad's
tanned face, to the cow's round eyes, to the slick
black newborns.  She's been out to the gully, seen

the dry bones of her grandpa's roping horse, her brother's
4-H steer, and others, some forgotten.  Soon the cow,
swishing her tail and pulling on her halter rope,

will know.  She will bawl when the four-wheeler
takes her still, unlicked calves.  Now the girl,
who knows of the prophets from Bible study, resolves
never to let this happen again.  But it will.  It will.


I have Grandpa's branding iron.  Our new
electric one replaces it.  But I still hold
the old one sometimes, imagine the blue-
gray smoke, fire burning, touching the cold
metal which then sears the Angus skin.
Like Grandpa I have reached inside a cow's
slick birth canal, untangled a pair of twins,
then laughed when she forgot one, her moos
contented and soft, to the other, telling me
she couldn't count to two.  Did Grandpa cry
when he found his favorite cow near a tree
bloated, dirty, her brand facing the sky?



BIO: TR Poulson studies creative writing at the University of Nevada, Reno.  Her work has appeared in Alehouse, Main Channel Voices, Brushfire, and anthologized in A Dream in the Clouds.  When not reading or writing, she enjoys windsurfing, zumba, kickboxing, and basketball.