You walked with Jane
as you passed by
the water tower
she talked


of the various breeds
of cattle
there were some
for meat


others for milk
some for both
she pointed out
some cows


in a field nearby
and told you
their breed
have you ever seen


a calf born?
she said
you said


not seen anything
like that
let's go to the farm
I think they have a cow


that is due to drop
she said
so you turned up
the drive


that led to the farm
where you worked
some evenings
after school


or at weekends
she walked and talked
you listened
looking at her


dark hair tied back
with a green ribbon
her dark eyes shone
with sunlight


you looked away
at that moment
watching the farm dog
pass by


with its one good eye
(it had bitten you once
and you were wary of it)
a cowman


was at the side
of a shed
clearing out
has the new calf


been born yet?
she asked
he looked at her
then at you


no not yet
he said
but should be soon
want to watch then?


he said
gazing at you
kind of grinning


Jane said
Benedict here
hasn't seen a birth
oh of course


these Londoners
haven't nought
he said
hang about a moment


and we'll go across
he said
you looked at Jane
she was silent


looking around the farm
have you seen
a calf being born?
you asked


many times
she said
ever since
I could stand


I’ve been near
cattle and sheep
I know most breeds
of both


she added softly
after a few minutes
the cowman walked
you both over to the cowshed


over the yard
and opened up
the half door
there she is


he said
waiting to drop
you and Jane
peered over


the half door
at a cow by the wall
looking at you


her tail flapping
away flies
shouldn't be long now
the cowman said


never seen
a calf born then?
he said to you
no not yet


you said
don't suppose
you Londoners
see much of cows


he said smiling
no not at all in London
you said
he looked at Jane


then at the cow
which was standing still
making noises
then moving


then standing still again
I was about 5
when my old dad
took me to see


a calf born
the cowman said
all that blood and stuff
near made me


want to puke
first time
you looked at Jane
her hands


on the door top
her eyes focused
on the cow
she had on blue jeans


and boots
and a yellowy top
with small bulges
of breasts


there she goes
the cowman said
and you gazed
at the cow


and a head appeared
as if by magic
out of the rear
of the cow


and it hung there
then it slid out
and dropped


to the straw filled floor
covered in blood
and stuff
and the cow


licked the calf
and you watched
at the new life


laying there
the cow licking
the legs moving


the head turning
that's how it is
the cowman said
easy one that


and you moved closer
to Jane
smelling her scent
her warmth near you


her arm next to yours
what will you call it?
Jane asked
don't know yet


the cowman said
might call it Benedict
if it's a bull calf
and Jane


if it's a heifer
he smiled at you both
and opened up
the lower door


and went in
then closed it up again
there you are
she said


now you've seen
a calf born
you nodded
and you walked back


out of the yard
and up the drive
let's go back to my house
she said


Mum'll give us
tea and cake
and we can tell her
about the calf 


you said
walking beside her
sensing her nearness


her hand close to yours

you wanting to hold it
but not doing so
walking there


beneath the sun's
warmth and glow.

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