Certainly no farmer,
I was afraid,
A skinny, anxious
Fourteen or fifteen,
Barely beyond a boy,
Scarcely defined as man.

Grandpa laid up in bed,
Cows needed milking,
Udders taut, teats leaking,
Frothy white on black mud,
Insistent lowing pleas.

As an uncle hadn’t shown,
I slid the barn door open
And grabbed the heavy stick,
A baton of authority, I surmised,
An illusory prop of confidence.

Heads and horns through stanchions,
These matrons knew their places.
Suddenly a hoof lashed out,
A swift, stunningly accurate kick
Striking only the stick.

I inventoried my limbs. All my
Parts were there, nothing amiss.
Her message was conveyed:
“That’s unnecessary, young man.”
Unequivocally, I knew my place.