maybe we need another hero

the quickest way to calm me down
is placing me
in the middle of a stall–

the warm, moist breath of cows
transports me back to childhood,
reminding me of my aunt Lina,

i used to join her when it was the time
to milk, when she sat bent,
head placed comfortably,
soft against the cow’s warm belly,

catching flies with dirty hands, my words
dripped in the rhythm of the milk machine
& straw stems wound their fragile limbs
around my toes–

many of my stories hung upon
that cow dung squirted walls—

and she just listened,

listened to an angry, desperate,
helpless child–
listened carefully while cows released
their milk into a stainless steel can–

i lay folded at their hooves,
knowing that i would survive
another day, another week—

with the scent of grass and dying flies
pinned to my fingers,

all my heroes–
have smelled of cow since then,

and on cold days i still find
traces of those hay blades,
hidden in the childhood chambers
of my heart


yes…this is me on the above pic.. and yes…it’s MeetingTheBar again over at dVerse and Victoria has prepared a wonderful heroic prompt for us… see you 3pm EST..


47 responses to “maybe we need another hero

  1. smiles…nice picture of you!!!! ha…love the poem as well…i think it might be one of my favs actually…really nice textures….the dung squirted walls are a bit gross but…ha….many fav parts but i like…

    catching flies with dirty hands, my words
    dripped in the rhythm of the milk machine
    & straw stems wound their fragile limbs
    around my toes–

    she sounds like a wonderful person…

  2. Claudia … I began by feeling the “head placed softly against the cow’s warm belly” this with gratitude made me feel my own head placed against the sides of my pony while grooming him … smelling his wonderful smell. But later I felt/feel such sadness, such deep sadness.

  3. Claudia,
    So many memories are engendered by scent, and those early ones are indelible. This is such a nice evocation of your moments…And the pic!!!!!!!

  4. Wow… I would have to agree with you… I really like “many of my stories hung upon
    that cow dung squirted walls” and “with the scent of grass and dying flies
    pinned to my fingers”…

  5. Strange what memories give us strength to continue on and face another day…since I spent my tour of duty on a farm as a child…these sights and sounds are familiar.

  6. I understand what you are trying to communicate with your first stanza, but it tripped me up. “…moist cows breath…” does not take me with you where you go with the rest of the poem. Kinda of tripped me up from the start. My mind was initially stuck grappling with the contradicting images of beautiful cows, but then the moist smell of cows breath rears its head, and the two conflict. Just an observation.

    • yes…know what you mean emmett…though really…cow breath is def. moist… it’s a nice & warm moisture though…but will think about it…it’s anyway one adjective too much in this line.. always appreciate your feedback..

  7. Definitely an unexpected source of heroism. Love that, completely surprised me. Really love the way this piece worked out, as our memories, and those triggers from our memories can be heroic themselves, and I really appreciate how this idea of heroism stayed with you, heroic indeed. Very nicely done. Thanks

  8. Claudia…I do not know any other way to tell you: I LOVE THIS POEM.
    It is ME! To a “T”…the flies, the dung, the twining-between-toes straw,
    bringing the cows (50) home every morning before school, and every evening after school.

    YOU, Girl, have made today, those hay blades to stir in the hidden childhood chambers of my heart. Thank you, Bless you, Love you!!!!!!!

    (Am so happy with this memory, and a poet so good as you to conjure!)

  9. Claudia, you have such a cohesive, well-bound-together, poem of free verse here. It expresses in a flowing manner your thankfulness at having that cow stall in which to vent your hurts and frustrations with life–and then leave them there, as cow dung spread on the stall walls! The warmth of the hay blades warms your heart to this day, I can tell! Wonderful!

  10. It’s another world isn’t it. The image of cow dung squirted on the walls is a bit Ewww…but.. it’s so true to life. Took me back to my childhood days of visiting farms and cow sheds and milking and such… the smell of fresh hay is so lovely.
    A beautiful memory you shared.

  11. Yes, this piece is bittersweet, rife with olfactory
    and audio clues that conjure for all of us ever
    cow & horse stall we ever stood in, the dung
    in the straw, the tack on the wall, the plows
    in the corner over twin wheelbarrows, the
    old red tractor still wet with rain, the stack
    of stainless steel buckets, the new boards
    replacing the kicked-out ones. Love the lines
    /all my heroes/have smelled of cow since then/

  12. Thanks from one who grew up with the scent of cows. I love how the cows release their milk as the child releases her troubles. And “all my heroes–have smelled of cow since then,” is just so perfect it gave me a little chill of delight.

  13. so nice. so real. I saw it all because your descriptions are so vivid and heartfelt. God- I was about to say something like ‘childhood memories like these should be bottled’- but then stopped myself (damn….) You captured it all right here Claudia- I especially like the part about your aunt leaning her head- such a small thing- but you saw it and remembered it as something comforting

  14. Aw. This is adorable. It sounds like your aunt may have implanted some creative notions in your mind. You wrote so lovingly. I felt it.

  15. Reading this poem over coffee really made for a lovely start to the day. What a wonderful way you have with words, it has become one of my favourites of your work. What a memory to have, thankyou so much for sharing this Claudia. 🙂

  16. Love these lines….and on cold days i still find
    traces of those hay blades,
    hidden in the childhood chambers
    of my heart…..

    your aunt sounds wonderful !

  17. This gave me the chills, Claudia. How our senses (especially smell) remember those moments with loved ones who stand by us when we are facing difficult times. She sounds like the kind of heroine I would like to be when I grow up. :0)

  18. What an odd association! 🙂 I’ve been in that stall, watching simikar hands, smelling the sweet odor of dung. My grandmother’s one of my heroines, and her tireless day spent making my day safe, clean, filled with her love of me and her family is fresh still in my soul. Your poem is so lovely, and I admire how you describe her but don’t do so objectively, perhaps loathe to objectify her. She lives in your heart, your words, the music of your memories.

  19. Wonderful poem–vivid, smelly, sweet. I especially liked:
    all my heroes–
    have smelled of cow since then,

  20. That is just gorgeous, Claudia. It reaks of sweet nostalgia and a very sweet smell of farmyard – I worked on farms in holidays as a teenager. Your Aunt sounds like the kind of hero, who was rooted in mother earth; in touch with the only things that are the foundation of happiness. Just lovely writing; heart-warming sentiment.

  21. “hidden in the childhood chambers
    of my heart”

    beautiful line, claudia. beautiful poem ~ sad, loving, tender, painful… i could hear your heartbeat in every word. one of my favorites, too!

  22. I was very touched by the poem, Claudia. How blessed you were as a child to have an adult listen to you without any censure …It’s amazing how our sense of smell gets intermingled with memories….

  23. You took me back to my childhood, to my time away from the blitz on a cousin’s farm.- until those last two stanzas! I could not follow you there, but I was enchanted! Fab’ poem.

  24. A more reflective piece from you Claudia – more so than I’ve been used to at any rate! Yet, I still love it. Childhood memories do stay with us like beacons, don’t they? and can be endless sources of inspiration. Love it.

  25. I cannot imagine how it would be like growing up in a city, rather than in a village where animals and life’s smells are the basis and the heart of life.

    and where is exactly this cafe? would be happy to drop by if i am around..

  26. Those who offer us refuge and love in our most wounded times, and when we are at our most vulnerable, can smell of anything they want! Lovely piece, as always Claudia, full of immediate and intense images.

  27. Brilliant … memories and heroe connected to that cows smell… amazing Clausdia

    Love your picture… cute!

  28. Loved this poem … such nostalgia so well penned. I was going to say that I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall listening to your lovely stories, but then again I wondered if I would want to become obliterated between your fingers. LOL. 🙂

  29. “and on cold days i still find
    traces of those hay blades,
    hidden in the childhood chambers
    of my heart”

    You made me tear up by the end of this one, Claudia.

  30. All my hero’s smell of cow. Nice. Very poignant reveal about your childhood. Thanks for sharing in your unique way. sniff, sniff, something smells…

  31. Milk..makes it!
    I’ve never sat with cows, so I have a fear of them here, on my street now
    the city was short on rural life for me.
    I do feel how calming it was for you…a perfect place a lovely person.

  32. I close my eyes and smell what you smelled,feel what you felt, even though the cows were long gone by the time we came to play in the barn. Your final stanza brings it all back. Beautiful poem. Thank you, Claudia (with damp eyes).

  33. What a touching tribute to your Aunt Lina, who gave what a hurting little girl needed, the gift of a listening ear – the gift of communicating that your heart mattered to her…so sweet…hugs to you, Claudia, and to that little girl 🙂

  34. I was just thinking about how I used to love to curry my grandfather’s cows. I would brush them until he made me stop. Lovely to read this and remember too.