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Butter

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I’ve never seen the land
of milk and honey, but at

the Iowa State Fair I glimpsed
a cow fashioned of butter.

It lived behind a window
in an icy room, beneath klieg lights.

I filed past as one files
past a casket at a wake.

It was that sad: a butter cow
without a butter calf. Nearby I spied

a butter motorcycle, motorcycle-
sized, a mechanical afterthought

I thought the cow might have liked to ride.
You don’t drive a motorcycle; you ride it.

But not if you’re a butter cow, not
if you’re a butter cow who’s seen, if

not the land of milk and honey, the land
of milk, and dwelled within it.

It had a short life span, the butter cow.
Before it died, I looked

deep into its butter eyes. It saw
my butter soul. I could

have wept, or spread myself,
for nobody, across dry toast.

Source: Poetry (January 2010)

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This poem originally appeared in the January 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

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Butter

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