The Farmer's Wife

'Easy, Boss....So-oo-oo, Boss.'

The small barn is dim, stuffy with rotting wood

the smell of summer hay, urine and fresh excrement

of rich hot cows their breaths meadow-sweet.

The building rustles with little movements

in the rafters, the old plank walls

restive animals cropping in their troughs.

Three sloe-eyed cats sleek with mice and milk

sit and mewl, and they wait

strategically short of an irritated hoof.

The woman settles securely on the three-legged stool.

She heaves her heavy skirts up and aside

baring her ankle boots, her knees, almost her thighs

quickly glancing left and right, and behind

to secure her privacy beyond doubt.

Expertly she wedges the heavy trug between her knees

and strokes the cow's golden flank.

'Easy, Boss. Soo -oo – Boss.'

A mantra sibilant, restful and intimate.

The gentle Jersey shifts and lows softly

its udder swollen, eager for the woman's fingers on its teats.

She begins to caress, pull and press over the wooden pail.

She milks the cow rhythmically, sympathetically

cooing to herself.

She savours the smell of the thick warm milk, the cow's pulsing hide

the pungency of the close barn.

She likes the scent of herself released from thick clothes.

She breathes deeply and speaks softly,

'Ah, Flora Jean, 'tis a fine cow you are.'

◄ The Lighthouse (a romance)

'Puttin' on the Ritz' ►


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Jane C. Steele

Tue 1st Aug 2017 21:37

How very evocative and atmospheric. I am there in the barn, an intruder, an interloper, almost unwanted, except I'm invited in by your wonderful poem.

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keith jeffries

Mon 31st Jul 2017 16:12

Cynthia, a well deserved Poem of the Week, as you take the reader, whether familiar or not with such a rustic setting, directly to the place which the poem centres on. An excellent work. Thank you Keith

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Frances Macaulay Forde

Mon 31st Jul 2017 03:28

Well-deserved 'Poem of the Week'!
Congratulations, Cynthia.

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Raj Ferds

Mon 24th Jul 2017 15:36

This is Soo-oo sensuous Cynthia.

I actually read the last 8 lines again and again.
The assorted smells of that 'ol barn still lingers.

Lucky cow 'tis Flora Jean!


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Frances Macaulay Forde

Mon 24th Jul 2017 02:17

I agree.
So clever and beautifully atmospheric:

"Three sloe-eyed cats sleek with mice and milk

sit and mewl, and they wait

strategically short of an irritated hoof."


"She heaves her heavy skirts up and aside

baring her ankle boots, her knees, almost her thighs..."

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Sun 23rd Jul 2017 16:45

Fabulous Cynthia. Really so together in a great swathe of loving attention - there is no mistaking the scene and all that goes into it. It is really a painting in words!


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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Sun 23rd Jul 2017 11:36

This work came from 'trug', a word I simply tripped over yesterday; and the poem came out wholly formed as if I were some kind of 'medium'. It made me feel a bit weird, but unbelievably happy.

I don't know what the last line really means either, although I have my suspicions.

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kJ Walker

Sun 23rd Jul 2017 09:39

Hi Cynthia, this piece was so beautifully descriptive that you couldn't just picture it, you could smell it too.

Cheers Kevin

<Deleted User> (13762)

Sun 23rd Jul 2017 09:37

with careful choice of words it is possible to write in such a way as gives a piece an air of timelessness for there is no telling when this scene took place.

I know of young people here in West Wales who live very basic and rural lives through choice, scything their fields in bare feet and living as best they can from their precious acres of land - sustainably and with minimal impact on the planet. This reminded me also of Hardy's Tess and ancient Brits going about their daily chores.

But what I like the most about this piece are the smells that are captured so well especially in those last few lines. In our modern ways we have done our best to eradicate strong odours yet in past times they were a part of every day living. Your farmer's wife appears to revel in the 'scent of herself released from thick clothes' - a line I absolutely adore btw. It's almost shocking, faintly sensual - she could almost be talking of herself in the last line.

thanks for posting,

patricia Hughes

Sat 22nd Jul 2017 22:22

my dads homeplace was much the same,no electricity and water from the well.Good memories that I had forgotten,thankyou for helping me to remember.

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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Sat 22nd Jul 2017 19:06

Harry, you have made my day. I popped back on to correct a spelling error that was a typo from the original document on my Office Stuff. And I failed to pick it up there, or here, before posting. I am so honoured by your comments.

Patricia, I'm not exactly 'ancient', (well - almost) but I was privileged to have Irish grandparents whose village farm did not receive electricity until I was at least twelve. So my memories of oil lamps and hand-pumped water from a deep well, candling eggs and milking cows, of horse drawn hay wagons etc. etc. are very real and very wonderful. I even attended three one-room schoolhouses for four years. It's hard to credit. But I have always felt privileged for such experiences - as though I stand with an identity in three different centuries. It has given me a 'sympathy' deeply ingrained for simplicity and hardiness of spirit.

patricia Hughes

Sat 22nd Jul 2017 18:26

So reminds me of the farm that my dad grew up on.

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Harry O'Neill

Sat 22nd Jul 2017 16:00

This is more effectively evocative of an actual farm scene than even a talented artist could produce.

It`s (sort of Browningesque-masculine-like?) word choices ( checked by that `privacy`) evoke the place in a way that a painting could not do....You can almost smell the place.

I always thought that the all-togetherness of painting made it a superior art...but this has made me think again.

I can`t recall any similar type of poem by you...but this one is a style you should try again.

I like the `pungency`...`savours`...`rich warm` `rafters`
`plank walls`...`heavy skirts`...`wedges`...the overall tone of the poem in the deeper register.

A lovely surprise for a Saturday afternoon!

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