Having built Sheila’s little 2-cow milking shed in 2007, with attached feed store, dog kennels, chicken run and pig sty, I got to thinking about cows and their lives. I wrote the following verse and sent it to The George Herald, where it duly appeared.
The Milking Shed.
See all the ladies standing there
At the factory gate.
Some impatient, some don’t care
If they open late.
Some of the old hands just barge in
For their ration meal.
They’ll knock over pail and bin
With determined zeal.
The new girls, they stand shyly, they
Don’t know where to go.
They have to be shown the way,
Have to take it slow.
So recently they’ve dropped their calves,
Some are still in pain,
Their eyes still sunken, tails still arched,
Reach out for the grain.
Around and round and round they go,
Calve and milk, then dry.
The eternal cycle’s all they know,
‘til the day they die.
Peter J. Earle – 2008.
It amuses my screwed up little mind that verse means heifers in Afrikaans.
Michelle Blanckenberg of the George Herald who compiles “Penveer”, meaning “Quill”, which consisted of 2 pages of prose and poetry to which readers subscribe, also thanked me for my poem, “Yesterday‘s Soul”. She says she enjoyed it and agreed with me that Hannes Visser, our neighbour here in the village of Haarlem who subscribes almost every week to Penveer, is a special man. He was a teacher, artist and poet before becoming the editor of the Oudtshoorn Courant newspaper in Oudshoorn. With luck, I shall shortly get an interview with him to share some of his thoughts and achievements.
Observe, my friend, the picture that you painted yesterday.
It stands upon its easel by the tubes still on their tray.
The sunlit attic window holds the oils sharp. They glisten.
You see right through the painting and you tilt your head to listen:
You hear, my friend, the voices calling softly from your dreams.
Was this really in your vision? Is this image what it seems?
You still can feel the tremble of the paintbrush in your hand
As you raised up the mountains and you forested the land.
You still can hear the gushing of the pure, clean mountain stream.
With your soul and hand uniting, you immortalised your dream.
But now, today, you’re frowning and you shiver, though it’s warm.
Is there discord in the mind? Did your hand distort the form?
The figures in the foreground, do they grimace or smile?
Walk they the path of freedom or tramp they the gallows aisle?
You hear the drumbeat plainly, see the dancers move and sway –
Do they still feel the rhythm as they felt it yesterday?
But ah! I hear you laughing. Is it bitterly or gay?
Are they not lost forever, those dreams of yesterday?
Come, hold your head up proudly – give me answers to these things,
Is that your heart a-crying, or that your soul that sings?
Peter J. Earle. 1971.
Life is full of amazing coincidences. I add one here from the smalls in The George Herald. A daughter advertised in the Personal column looking for her father in the city of George. Further on in the Services section, her father advertised Home Alterations. I sent her his number.