after Marc Chagall's I and the Village
whose rolling eye is as loving as a mother's.
I go to her stall to breathe straw and dung,
to place cornmeal bread and potato scraps
between her lips, feel her spit drip onto my palms.
I place my cheek on her flank, warm with grass,
and hear her four stomachs pluck a tune;
this is her song to me—a Vitebsk lullaby.
At the shtibel I give thanks, Hallelujah, I cry
to a room small as prayer, and all heads turn.
Across the village, in her stall, my cow lows in reply,
while Mama pulls on her teats and hiss goes the bucket.