Landscape, with Dead Bulls and Juice Boxes

In some ranches out west, all 
summer long, farmers have found
their cows crumpled on the ground
like giant blow-up toys with the air
siphoned out of them. Blood drained,
tongues and genitals removed
with surgeon-like precision
from the carcasses; no gunshot
wounds or animal marks, the ground
pristine underneath. No one
can explain how a Hereford bull
weighing 2,400 lbs. turns up
on a dry path, looking like a squashed
Tetra Brik of juice or chocolate milk
which a preschooler has gulped in one go
and tossed over his shoulder, running
into the schoolyard to play. The county
sheriff and forest rangers can't make
sense of it. When the crop duster pilots
talk among themselves, you might hear
words like beam or alien ship. Nervous
farmhands can't tell if broken wheat
stalks or speckled chicken eggs
are omens; or if they are, of what.
At least the cows are mostly in one
piece, unlike the matriarch in House
of the Spirits who gets decapitated
in a freak accident; they have to go
hunting for her head in the weeds.
Not even The Old Farmer's Almanac
can predict the weather on the day
we'll die and how we'll go, though
it will tell you when to put bulbs
in the ground; that spider webs
floating at sunset in late autumn
herald nights of frost; how you
should always confess the worst
thing first and how, if you hang
the skin shed by a snake but not
the flap-footed lizard or night
lizard's from the rafters, it
will most certainly bring rain.



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