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The hereford.

The smoke of dying fires rises from the orchard, thinning the moon until its reflection fills the cowpond where a brown and white Hereford, earlier that evening, wandering off shore and sinking its hooves in the deep cool mud, got stuck. It's out there now, still lowing, baffled but calm, like some dutiful god of all domestic animals. The swallows are gone that for an hour flew circles above its head, and in the pasture the fireflies come on; a sunfish leaps for one just beyond the Hereford's tail. Anyone leaving the orchard now, tired and hungry after having pruned the ranked, stubby trees all day, and trying to decide whether to eat first or sleep, would think nothing about that bawling from the bottom-land. But no one is leaving the orchard. No one is opening the door of the dark house. No one sinks back into the overstuffed armchair, his shoes still on. And the night passes into the night. The cricket panics before the mouse, the mouse before the owl, and the owl inside the pole-trap the farmer set the night before. All of which leaves the Hereford unconcerned. All of which leaves the Hereford, in fact, asleep. Never safer than now with its knees locked in mud, it nods its large head, and the rings of water roll away from its nose all night. All night the smoke and the moonlight fall like the fabric of a dream over the open land. And the mist rises and thickens around the cow, who will awaken inside this local cloud watching the white distortion of its face growing slowly clearer in the star-abandoned air, floating there before it over the imponderable water.
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Author:Crum, Robert
Publication:Chicago Review
Date:Jun 22, 1988
Words:283
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