I tugged those boliauns all day
in the sea air off the lough,
and my hands were raw, too sore
to barrow out the weeds to burn
and so I let them lie, smudged
and stringy with the pulling.
That evening, Paul let the cows
into the field. They plodded, trusting;
great belly sacks slung
on a rugged geometry, down
to the shore hedge.
Next afternoon, the vet came
with a long, hollow knife for the bloat.
A cow lay rolling her bulging eyes
to show the dark-veined whites,
her guts blown like a galleon sail,
a fallen zeppelin with a crazy idol’s head.
Paul said the vet swore blind
it wasn’t ragwort poisoning,
but there was the knife
and the bursting eyes’ distress.
I felt their reproach all through,