Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
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A Wayward Cow’s Worst Nightmare
     The New York Times on the Devil's Rope Museum, in Texas, dedicated to the history of barbed wire

It’s a wayward cow I now find
in the dream where I’m back in Texas

one year after my move to California. It’s a wayward
cow—brown with one eye slightly

larger and darker than the other. Wilder, like sides
of a bed in which one

of the two sleepers stays awake
hours longer than the other, who turns

in her insomnia to the thin light
that thieves through the door, or

to the cicadas which empty
their loose change into the old

days in their copper stacks. I’m back
in Texas, where I lived

for three-and-a-half years. Where a cow
now leads me through the front door

of the museum. Lengths of barbed wire
stud the walls, budding

their silver oleanders. Don’t look, the cow
says with her wilder eye,

don’t look at the walls where the wire’s
snagged our hide, where our

torn skin, without wind,
sways like paper—it’s a wayward

cow I now follow out the door.
I try not to look

as we leave, but I do, once,
and see a woman. She sleepwalks

through the museum in her swamp-
colored dress, her red hair

tangled like the year, like three-
and-a-half—her arms

darken, her scarred
back still mapped.    

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