City cousins, when their names

still ended in -ys and -ies,

the Jimmys and Eddies

as they were back then

and whose voices had yet

to grow coarse and deep,

ran downhill to the barn

to watch the milking and feeding

only to have Uncle Joe grab

them one by one in hammer locks,

squirt their faces with

the strong smelling lather

of swollen udders

before setting them free

with a wink and a pinch

to dash in shocked frenzy

uphill to the farmhouse

screaming, “Mom! Mom! Mom!

A cow peed in my mouth!” —

and revel in the memory

of the laughter of young mothers

echoing off an old wood stove

in Aunt Mamie’s kitchen

on a fresh summer morning

when the world

still felt safe and true