The Ins and Outs of Fences
The fence that used to keep the cows
lies strewn with empty skulls.
I try to match a face with each,
stick colored eyes in vacant sockets
and drape fur across the cheeks;
try to resurrect the bones,
install a soul inside each hollow
to reactivate the cow.
I want skulls to hold the fence at bay,
keep it from encroaching
on their sacred space;
want the fence to keep the curious out
so what remains of cows
can wade eternity
under blue-shade stars.
I want the cows to breathe hoarfrost
on the edge of winter's anniversary
of their demise and dance a curse
upon the moon that tamed forever
the beating of their hooves.
Harding Stedler, a third-generation teacher, retired from teaching at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio, in the summer of 1995. He earned his Ph.D. at Florida State University and spent 21 of his 34 years of teaching at the university level. He now lives in Arkansas, where he serves on the Executive Board of the Poets' Roundtable of Arkansas and is vice-president of the River Market Poets. Every September, he conducts the Little Smokies of Ohio Fall Poetry Workshop at Murphin Ridge Inn near West Union, Ohio.