Flood of '94

We'd seen high water before
but never like this.
My husband, waist deep in it,
came in from the barn shivering:
"We'll have to go upstairs now."
The sky never looked so close.
Dirty water rushed below us,
pieces of fence we'd just mended
and my best tin bucket.
He said, "Don't you dare cry."
He meant, "Something has to be held back."
The house trembled from the wrath.
We knew then we had to leave.
Our home. Our farm.
Our heifers bawling, "Ma, Ma."

Bob Lucas came by in his tractor and took us away.
By then the water was up to the cows' chins.
They don't like the wet, the cold;
it makes them want to lie down and sleep.
It was two days before we could come back.
I'd already imagined the worst:
I don't hope against hope.
And there they were, our beautiful Jerseys.
They bellowed to us, eyes wide.
They licked our hands.
Somehow Marianne had birthed a new calf.
We named her Miracle. We'll keep her forever.
We rolled up our sleeves and milked them underwater.

Debra Kaufman

Copyright © 1997 Debra Kaufman

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