Sunday, April 4, 2010

cows and myths about cows

The cow has many stories about her. The following picks up on some of these, but also incorporates stories about other animals including snakes and a tortoise. The stories in this poem come from India, Australia, Mesopotamia and greece. The photo is of a wooden tribal altar that I saw in Rajasthan.

what the mythmakers say

Queenie was afflicted with post-prandial drowsiness her four
stomachs all churning together Queenie is no fool she’s been
around for a while since the beginning of time who else spilled
the milky star road? who else set the galaxies spinning?
it’s Queenie who taught us how to make butter and ghee
the churn her very own invention take one stomach fill with milk
stir with a wooden stick until the cream separates move
to stomach number two turn churn spin and stir watch it clump
and cluster look a little longer until the buttermilk seeps out
in the third stomach knead and knuckle make it smooth and firm
the fourth stomach will heat the butter and turn it to ghee

in another time a later time when gods and demons had
forgotten how to be immortal they joined forces to create
a nectar of immortality these boys took their time they carried in
Mount Mandara turned it upside down placing it upon the back
of the tortoise demons one side gods the other each held the
world snake and twirled the mountain top for a thousand years
back forwards back forwards again and again and again
even then the best they could manage was deadly poison

in the great south land the snake laps up the cow’s spilt milk
this one swallows all the girls and women swallows the bleeding
girls the pregnant women swallows them and makes them dance
their insides begin to churn no one can hold anything down they
vomit they bleed and they are swallowed yet again by the snake
who suffers from indigestion the girls and women beat their fists
against the stomach walls when the next full moon comes round
the world snake regurgitates the tribe of women

in a garden between two great rivers a woman encounters
a snake she is impressed by the colour of its scales green
she prods it with a stick and the snake turns blue in rage
the snake is wily knows better than to broadcast its thoughts
pulling its head in the snake offers her fruit from the tree
this woman is nothing but naïve she takes it bites it with her
giant teeth scraping them along its flesh she’s not impressed
with the sour fruit tosses it over her shoulder and walks away

women tossing apples cause strife they distract contestants
in races incite discord among the in-crowd separate
the sheep from the goats and in innocent looking ways
begin wars beware women bearing ripe fruit

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