The White Cow
by Sharon Black
She emerged from the sea, udder fat
as a skinned sheep, the islanders thin as chaff –
said, Bring your pails to the old stone cross,
barely a skeleton itself,
where she stood, a white henge
at the centre of the ring, let them
draw their fill. Moon flowed through her.
Each night a bucketful for every man,
her hooves strong in mud, legs not ceding
to the milkweight.
A crofter with two pails arrived – No. Next night,
coaxed her dry.
On her hind hooves, she rose to her full height,
become a rudder –
seven tons of Lewisian gneiss –
of a ship invisible by day, like the one
that dazzled the island’s young men
with talk of the New World,
eventually sailed them away.↑