Lunchtime, I’m meditating on a hoof. I’m a tapping on my own shoulder: a hoof. A hoof grows indefinitely until its owner becomes lame. There’s a cow on my back who is a tapping on my shoulder: her hoof. That cow can’t walk. She’s all lame. I won’t touch her hooves. Something here has grown too large. I wonder which came first – the beast or the pasture – and a hoof is pressed against my lips. I’ll never make her walk. She is a thought bubble pressing into my back. She has endured multitudes for such large hooves. Once the cows stop working we drift them out onto the lake in tiny splintering boats. But this one’s special. She’s hooves. She’s a tapping on my shoulder. She’s gravity. Can’t even walk. Needs my spine, my shoulders, myself.
A person can become familiar with a cow. A hoof can be a friend, or a meal, or an illness you forget about. A hoof grows indefinitely to fit the pasture beneath it. Then the animal becomes lame. Then the earth becomes lame. I can sit inside of a concrete box for days on end and feed myself on silly ideas and cold chicken soup but will I ever grow? Is there some dirt somewhere for me to stand on? I’ve never been impressed with the size of a person. I’m meant to believe a person can do anything they set their mind to, and yet we are all so small and we pretend to outgrow things even though we can’t. Every which way I look is pasture.
The hooves, though. I’m hungry. Anything that will make me grow. Lunchtime. The cow, she’s meditating on me. A lowing.
Aidan Dolbashian is a graduate of University College Dublin’s M.A. Creative Writing program, where he served as the poetry editor for the HCE Review, the UCD M.A. program’s literary journal. He obtained his B.A. in English from the University of Vermont, where he produced an honours thesis centred on the prose poem. He is the recipient of the Benjamin B. Wainwright award for poetry. His work has been previously published in Oyster River Pages, Catfish Creek and the HCE Review.