by Sarah Brown Weitzman

Last night a calf was born
to my yoke partner’s mate
and we moaned though low
because it is to live as we

and all before us live
we who have never lived
wild. Nor will this new tiller
already stumbling

after his mother as she returns
to the grindstone rounds
rise up to rebel
and lead us out of slavery.

Oxen have no other fate.
We gave up
counting our steps in the fields
or the persistent prods of the rod.

We know no longings
but for food. We drag
over the difficult earth.
But sometimes the smell of dew

on new-cut grass or the shadow
of a bird rippling over
the furrow ahead
lets us know our despair

we who tow the boats and bear the loads
we who turn the wheels and push the carts
and feel nothing
but the soft powdery explosions

of the clods that burst beneath our hoofs.
Yet when times are bad
and men eat the grain
meant for us

then the fear of nothing
finally makes us yearn
to hold even this
treadmill life of pulling.



Sarah Brown Weitzman, a past National Endowment for the Arts Fellow in Poetry and Pushcart Prize nominee, has been published in hundreds of journals and anthologies including The New Ohio Review, Poet & Critic, The North American Review, The Bellingham Review, Rattle, Mid-American Review, The MacGuffin, Poet Lore, Spillway, Miramar, and elsewhere. Pudding House published her chapbook, The Forbidden.