Marvin Lurie

Mr. Shumway’s Cows

Listing, sun-bleached posts
of what was once a fence
run alongside what was once a road,
drunkenly hold up a memory of wire,
keep the ghosts of Mr. Shumway's cows
from wandering into the backyards
that were once a corn field.
Slantwise, I can still see those furrows,
the gravel road.

And here comes my grandfather walking down that road
holding my hand.

We're going to buy a bottle of milk from Mr. Shumway.
He milks his two brown cows in an unpainted barn
with white hens pecking around,
a black dog that never gets up,
a yellow cat that watches.

Something is wrong today today.
Mr. Shumway is shaking his head,
pointing to his cows, waving his hand at the corn.
I understand “no more milk.”
No more walks here holding my grandfather's hand.

My grandfather is a thin man with soft hands.
He comes out from the city
to read me stories and take me for walks.
He explains that Mr. Shumway is moving away.
People are coming to build houses.

Walking back, I hold my grandfather's hand
really tight.

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