Hughes, Ted: A March Calf
A March Calf (Angol)
Right from the start he is dressed in his best - his blacks and his whites
Little Fauntleroy - quiffed and glossy,
A Sunday suit, a wedding natty get-up,
Standing in dunged straw
Under cobwebby beams, near the mud wall,
Half of him legs,
Shining-eyed, requiring nothing more
But that mother's milk come back often.
Everything else is in order, just as it is.
Let the summer skies hold off, for the moment.
This is just as he wants it.
A little at a time, of each new thing, is best.
Too much and too sudden is too frightening -
When I block the light, a bulk from space,
To let him in to his mother for a suck,
He bolts a yard or two, then freezes,
Staring from every hair in all directions,
Ready for the worst, shut up in his hopeful religion,
A little syllogism
With a wet blue-reddish muzzle, for God's thumb.
You see all his hopes bustling
As he reaches between the worn rails towards
The topheavy oven of his mother.
He trembles to grow, stretching his curl-tip tongue -
What did cattle ever find here
To make this dear little fellow
So eager to prepare himself?
He is already in the race, and quivering to win -
His new purpled eyeball swivel-jerks
In the elbowing push of his plans.
Hungry people are getting hungrier,
Butchers developing expertise and markets,
But he just wobbles his tail - and glistens
Within his dapper profile
Unaware of how his whole lineage
Has been tied up.
He shivers for feel of the world licking his side.
He is like an ember - one glow
Of lighting himself up
With the fuel of himself, breathing and brightening.
Soon he'll plunge out, to scatter his seething joy,
To be present at the grass,
To be free on the surface of such a wideness,
To find himself himself. To stand. To moo.