Have you ever stood so close to a cow
you could smell the sweet breath of her breathing?
Or watched as her skin tried to twitch away a pesky piercing fly?
Have you noticed a tick buried deep in her coat
or the flecks of dark mud on her udder?
Felt the quick pain as a fast-flying hoof
struck the narrow sharp bone of your shin?
Have you stood on the plain
some ten-thousand years since,
with brave face and trembling innards,
approaching a long-horned wild hulk of a beast
intending to take it for dinner?
Did you kill it to find it had milk in its bag
and catch its young calf in the brush?
Did you claim it and raise it and make it your own
despite its wild snorting and pawing?
Did you drink of its plenty, give thanks for the gift
and make cheese, and yogurt, and butter?
Do you sit at your table with milk in a glass
aware of the kinship it offers
to cow and plain and human-kind
and the journey we’ve travelled together?
(Text by Bob Ernst. Photo by Sharon Ernst)