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Need for a Quick Step

Text of Poem

I noticed the cow in heat
as I drove the herd from the barn
out to pasture. The bull smelled her,
roared from his pen, scooped up straw,
and threw it over his back.
Let him snort, I thought, he can wait
till evening.
A wire on the barnyard gate
needed mending. I snubbed it tight
with a claw hammer and was just ready
to wrap it around the post when
my guardian angel spoke to me.
I turned and there he was,
right behind me, jaws frothy,
sweat shining on his shoulders,
a board from the broken door
spindled on one horn.
I took a quick step, slid through
the gate, locked it on the outside.
A surprise like that made me wonder
if our ancestors didn’t have quick legs
to beat the dinosaurs to their caves.

First Line
I noticed the cow in heat
Original Pub Location
Original Publication Date
Original Citation
The Complete Poems of James Hearst. Ed. Scott Cawelti. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2001. 498.
Complete Poems
Word Count

Permission to reproduce work from the James Hearst Papers has been granted by the Special Collections Department of the University of Iowa Libraries.

Poetic Form