To the New World

by Thomas Rabbitt

The neighbor has dragged his cow to the riverside
And dumped her in. Sure, hadn’t she died?
A gift for the gods who took her so.
And there she goes
Bobbing on the black Clare’s tide
Over the salmon weirs, under the bridge at Ballygaddy,
Down to Galway, down to the hungry sea.
Why wouldn’t she look like Brendan’s boat?
Riding her back, legs raised like oars in a stiff salute,
She’s saying goodbye to all this life’s misery.
She’s a saint. She’s off to the New World.
A man weary of wind and rain might hitch a ride,
Sure within the sprung ribs, safely curled
For the trip like a foetus inside the salted hide.

                    —originally published in The Greensboro Review #72 (fall 2002)

The author of several books of poems—including Exile (1975), The Booth Interstate (1981), The Abandoned Country (1988), Enemies of the State  (2000), and Prepositional Heaven (2001) — Thomas Rabbitt has retired from his teaching career and currently lives and writes in Tennessee.  In 1972, he founded the MFA program in creative writing at The University of Alabama.  In Fall 2004 NewSouth Books will release American Wake: New & Selected Poems.

selected by Dan Albergotti