Whenever I was feelin’ lonely, I’d go out and sit by the herd.
Something about their breath. You know, the whole world could feel like burstin’ out of your chest, but if you listened to them breathe…well, it was like God was speakin’ right to you.
And my otherself would meet me, and we’d sit, pullin’ at the grass. Cows move one foot to the other, but not goin’ anywhere.
Some nights we’d sit forever. Never wanted to leave.
But it’d get cold and the bugs, angry.
My otherself was there, in the good way.
Like we were the same, for real, come together.
After mom and I left Stanton, I couldn’t go see the herd anymore. I was glad, too, kinda. Because I can sleep here. Nothin’ to wake me up.
But I miss goin’ over to the filed to watch the cows.
Escape kept me goin’.
What’s worse is the pain, but now it’s just quiet.
Not like the escape-quiet.
That’s more a hush, or a soft hand on a bruise.
You push on it just to make sure you didn’t imagine.
Used to wake up to weight. Shadow-man I called him. Never knew which ones or what their real names were.
Is it funny to say that, after we left Stanton the shadow-men still followed me.
Difference is, now I can tell ‘em what to do.
Yesterday, walkin’ home from school, Matt threw my lunchbox in the ditch.
I said, Shadow-man, do somthin’
Next thing I knew I was runnin so fast, trying to catch the escape feelin.’
Just get me to a field somewhere, I said.
Cows know what you’re thinkin.’
Have a way of liftin’ the weight off your chest,
when the world swells up in there, big as a peach-bruise on the shin.
I told ‘em I’d stay real quiet. Just breathe.
They said, You’re insides are out. You’re hands are shakin.’
When someone finally found me, said I was messin’ up the waterline.
Sprinklers like giant spiders, runnin’ across the field.
Irrigation, he said. Messin’ up my irregation. What you doin’ out here, little lady?
I said, Talkin’ to the cows.
Where’s your mama?
I figured he was one of the shadow-men, but real.
Standin’ there not in a haze but could actually see him.
Pressed my knuckles into dirt. Cover me.
What you got on your hands, little lady?