K.M. Preston: ‘The Density of Cows’ and ‘Listening to Kookaburras I think of the Ukraine’

The Density of Cows

The road to Eden is bordered by cows,
whose ambling black pelts pepper the pasture,
munching green blades in bovine eternity
with impervious heads straining through wire fence.

Dark well eyes seemingly ignore our passing.
What mindfulness thoughts are carried
through dendrites to that oversized skull,
too deep for human discernment?

The herd shuffles through fog, seeking a promise
of warmth in the meagre sunlight of Winter
as nostrils ooze Pentecost flames into the cold
and hooves imprint the loose mud in animal dot art.

Cows also have speech where mooing is dialogue,
strictly arcane unless you have the gift of ground language
and communal togetherness, also a high concern for food.
Never was a creature more connected to the earth.

And this is after all the legacy of the cows: to let desires
and all concerns pace to self-forgetfulness.

K.M. Preston


Listening to Kookaburras I think of the Ukraine

At the age of sixty I discover gin and tonic
while sitting on the balcony of my school friend
down the coast.

As counterpoint to quinine’s astringent bite and alcohol
a kah kah kah koo koo ki ki ki koo kah echoes across
the sound-space.

Their name is a loanword from the Wiradjuri language
and there are two of them on a neighbour’s roof,
likely mates

because they are monogamous in life and death.
Then, with a flash of kingfisher blue and brown barred tail—
they’re away.

The collective noun is a riot, for they live together
in family groups to help raise chicks with their
infective mirth.

The call is harmonic, two tones at once thanks
to what biologists call a trachea-bronchial syrinx
but in truth

it is territorial, warning other family groups that
this space is mine and my family’s, and you must
stay away!

Which gets me thinking hard about the news today
and what if all disputes could be resolved with grace
by laughter.

K.M. Preston



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