Universal Language





call it instinct
those first mothering-up murmurs
the way a mother cow calls
her calf to her side, convinces it
to lie still and flat against the prairie
hiding itself until she comes back

no matter how large the herd
she knows which calf is hers
by smell, by sight,
by the sound of its voice
and mother cows have their own way
of deciding who will babysit
close behind the hill
while the rest go to feed

separate a calf from its mother
put three miles of fence
between them and on a still night
listen to their calls

before morning
you’ll find them paired

a mother cow knows
when her calf is sick, unable
to keep up, she stays close by
and when she senses danger she runs
wild as lightning, her beller
the thunder, she faces the enemy
head to head, gives all she has
take her calf away and for days
a mother cow comes back to the spot
she last nursed her baby

who knows if cows
have memories, we see them often
in groups, daughters, mothers
grandmothers all with calves
at their sides grazing together

call this instinct
give it whatever name
you want – I call it
the universal language
of mothers

Universal Language is from Doris’ new book of poetry, Where Blue Grama Grows published by Hagios Press
and available at www.canadiancowboy.ca