The Man Who Wanted to Hug Cows

On his good days, he’d walk out from the village
lose himself in country lanes, drawing blood from brambles
or stare across fields mumbling to himself.

They called him professor though no one knew his past; 
the postman brought rumours of separation and breakdown.

When first asked, farmers said no.
One relented, pointing him to a quiet Friesian.
“Seemed harmless enough” he told his neighbour later
but he watched him closely from the gate that first time,

uneasy at the nervousness of the stranger.

Left in peace, for long afternoons
he’d cling around folds of the heifer’s neck;
whisper an echo in the beast’s dark ear,
her big eyes and soft rough muzzle would turn to him.
Slow-motion slavers and heavy breath fell across his face

To those who listen the farmer’s wife still recalls
finding him asleep in the grass – a smile within the herd;
his head resting on thick-hared warmth,
lulled by the rise and fall of maternal ribs,
the beat of a larger heart.

from Black Cart (Freight Books, 2017) © Jim Carruth 2017, used by permission of the author

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