Perverse, disconsolate, and out of joint
With dull realities like bedtime, school,
And manners, he takes his cap and shuffles out
Toward the barn. Spring's last snow in the dark
Tickles his face and turns to flecks of water.
Pausing in the henhouse, he can hear
The nightlong muffled small-talk, as of girls
In dormitories after lights, foolish and throaty
"Who's there?" twits a light sleeping swallow.
Warm feathered darkness of the distant eaves
Caresses his cold ear before all's well.
His feet, now Indian, approach the stable.
Before he switches the light on, he knows
He has missed the hour, and the calf has come.
The cow is glowing with tranquillity,
Licking the wet coat smooth, rolling an eye
To greet his reverent wonder and his praise.
This is her moment out of many days,
Her annual show of pride. He kneels and blesses
The sodden bull-calf. Wordlessly he thinks
Of miracles and long needs all fulfilled:
Something his own, that he will never break,
That moves and tries to stand on rangy legs,
And falls, sniffing his hand with moist black nose.
He wanted a heifer, he remembers--yet
How close to Heaven can a small boy get?
He stands again to rub the mother's neck
And stroke her ears. "Good Bossy, good old girl!"
New-shared love enwraps the three like warmth
And summer's promise, and the end of school.
Before he clatters in to tell the news,
He fastens the barn door, looks at the sky,
Stretches and feels his bones and muscles growing
With Spring like sudden tears; and no more snowing.