Dead Cow

by Nick Norwood

From a distance: the herd,
slow-spinning galaxy.

Then this: redbrown splotch
lone against the grass.

He cranks the tractor,
drags her to a corner.

Her sisters chew.
Piled with castoff trailer tires

she is kerosened, lit,
becomes briefly fire blossom.

What killed her oxidizes
till she gutters out, smolders

three days. Buzzards stay away.
Insects wait for rain.

Windblown, bone,
in six months she is

pasture gall.
Next year, welt.

NICK NORWOOD’s third full volume of poems, Gravel and Hawk, won the Hollis Summers Prize in Poetry and was published by Ohio University Press in 2012. His poems have appeared widely, including in The Paris Review, Western Humanities Review, Shenandoah, The Wallace Stevens Journal, Poetry Daily, on the PBS News Hour site Art Beat, and on NPR’s Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor. He is currently a professor of creative writing and the director of the Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians at Columbus State University.