Self-Love

I do not know if I was given
James Herriot books to read as a child
because I wanted to be a veterinarian
or if I wanted to be a veterinarian
because I was given James Herriot
books to read as a child
but at one point in the books
or maybe all the time
in all the books—
I have no memory of any other events
that happened in the books
only that they were abundant
and I read them
and James Herriot
a veterinarian
put his hand inside a cow’s cunt
and then later I tried this in the tub.
It hurt, but I didn’t stop.
There were no women
in this exploration
just a man and a cow
and I was both
connecting in a way
our culture sanctions.
There were no women
in my childhood
in books or real life
just men and cows.
The women I loved were all men
and the women I did not know to love
cows. I did not yet know myself
and this hurt
sometimes I got curious
asked a strange man for a ride—
I mean my mom, of course—
to a farm with real livestock
I could trespass right up to
waving fistfuls of young
grass and clover through the fence
to soften the electric fact.
Sometimes a cow slipped
her key in the ignition
and drove me there
like heroines herded
through the Victorian Era
to fall in love or maybe
into a profession.

 

 

About the author

Helen Guri

Helen Guri is the author of Match, which was a finalist for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry, as well as two recent chapbooks: Here Come the Waterworks and Microphone Lessons for Poets. In 2015, she was a writer-in-residence at the Al Purdy A-Frame. She is currently at work on a book of lyric essays.

By Helen Guri