The calf’s jaw feels gold-heavy.
When I cup her chin,
it glows slick with hunger.
An eagerness to savor
sits in the upwards slant
of her wide eyes.
Her bull’s breath
heats my palm, condenses,
leaves a single drip of water
sliding against my wrist.
Within it, I can see
the small circle of the sun
reflected back at me,
as it slowly sets.
Two small dimples sit
where she was dehorned, hours after birth.
Dark feminine eyelashes, hot manly exhales,
I see in her a duality, so young she is still
part heifer, part bull, not yet re-signified.
I feel it in myself, too, as I
midwife a milking cow with
my gruff, calloused hands.
When her nose touches mine,
rife with presence,
it fills with an earthy sharpness
keen to begin a lifetime grazing,
head bowed, humbly.
To wean her from suckling,
she wears a spiked nose ring,
round and protruding,
that startles away the other cows
when it presses against
their soft bellies.
Her yearning, so instinctual,
was not built for bottle-feeding.
She juts her head forward,
lips curled and ready for attention,
towards me, instead.
My hands outstretched, I hold her head,
bearing her weight while she drinks.
I can feel her heartbeat through her neck
as I keep it tilted, unstrained,
pointed safely toward the sun as it sets,
the sky softening into flecks of gold against the dusk.
Emma Berver is a current student at Smith College pursuing a double major in English and Spanish along with the Poetry Concentration. She recently completed an internship at The Word Works, a poetry publication. Her work is forthcoming in The McNeese Review.