Farm Animals

My husband stalks them, the visiting American cousin photographing farm animals. He touches one whenever they let him: the hot breath of a donkey; the drool of cattle; the skittish, irritated shufflings of the new mothers we find everywhere this June. There is a hill that his grandfather walked to, and, as he told it, took one last look back at his cottage before walking down the other side in thick boots, down to the road, which led to the harbor. It took five hours to fly back to Ireland, for a young man and his wife of one day, back to the hill in Kilshanney, where this groom, this grandson, would like most to help this new- born calf to its feet. The calf wants most to kneel in the gloom of the shed on hay and suck my husband's finger. My husband tries tenderly to coax it to its feet, on pipe-stem legs, the way it must start.

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