Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine poet laureate.

One evening amidst the silence of an artists’ retreat in rural Ireland, Mekeel McBride of Kittery suddenly heard faint, distinct music from a room below – “a sweet, odd shock,” she writes, that made her feel as if the music came from everything around her, “intrinsic and also completely otherworldly.”

Strauss and Cows of Ireland

By Mekeel McBride

From my room at dusk I watch

the cows in their late graze.

Great clouds of gnats hang over

them, gauzy as a bride’s bouquet.

Downstairs, a radio.

Soprano’s aria swells

so delicate and pure

it must be unrequited love

but just what the opera is

I can’t tell from here,

though later learn: Strauss,

Der Rosenkavalier.

Cows continue to drift

the dusky pasture, luminous,

as if fed on candlelight

instead of grass. They pass

with heavy gentleness, now

and then stopping to lean toward

our windows with little regard

for human arias that reach them

though it conducts

through me a sweetness:

distant opera and the wandering

of star-tiaraed cows in darkness.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2006 Mekeel McBride. Reprinted from Dog Star Delicatessen, Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2006, by permission of Mekeel McBride. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, special consultant to the Maine poet laureate, at [email protected] or 207-228-8263. Take Heart: Poems from Maine, an anthology collecting the first two years of this column, is now available from Down East Books.

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