Snow fell lightly in the early-morning darkness as I walked on Rabbit Lane. Just past Ron’s house, I found a newborn calf lying in the shallow swale beneath the barbed wire fence. Flakes of snow flecked its black fur. This newborn had somehow lost its mother and was dying in the cold of the ditch. I groaned as I hefted the heavy calf and staggered to Ron’s back door. Ron soon came, taking the calf into his warm house with a “thank you.” The experiencing of finding and rescuing the newborn calf moved me deeply, and I wrote this poem.
lay beneath the rusted barbed wire fence
by the side of Rabbit Lane:
a lonely, black puddle in Winter’s whiteness,
salted with slowly settling snowflakes.
Death’s sadness reached into me,
a dull ache in my empty stomach.
It drew me to the calf.
I came near and reached out
to touch the black fur.
The small, black head lifted weakly,
turning big, moist eyes
to meet mine,
speaking to me
a simple, sad story:
of wandering from its mamma,
of slipping between the loose, rusty strands,
of learning it was lost,
of growing cold and weary,
of knowing fear,
of slumping down to die.
I strained to heave the newborn from the snow,
and trudged with my burden to
the dilapidated farmhouse.
I knocked shyly, a stranger,
whispered at the back door,
transferred my quivering bundle
to the thankful farmer,
to the warmth of a coal fire and a tender expression,
to warm bottled milk,
to a promise:
to find a mother,
to restore the proper order of things.