National Poetry Month Day 23: “January Dawn Happening” by Jessica Vooris ’09

January Dawn Happening
after Kevin Goodan

The calf’s feet poke out
and the cow strains
but the feet don’t move anymore.
My mother brings me
out to the field.  Look
she says in my ear,
as I sit bundled up in her arms,
they’re trying to save him.
In the field, a clamor:
the cow’s lowing, the clanging
of the metal holding pen,
the men’s hands and voices
getting louder.  But Mom is soft,
warm breath on my neck.
Look, she says, as they reach in
past the calf’s knees,
where the shoulders have locked.
Look at the chains they grab
and jerk, at the slide
of wet body and legs
that are suddenly free.
Look at the calf in the dirt
as the cow nudges
and cleans its body,
as he struggles to stand,
matchstick legs, brown tail trembling.
Look as he nurses,
as the morning light begins,
as I watch my cold
breath rise in the air, the effort
of living.



JESSICA VOORIS graduated in 2009 from Bucknell University where she double-majored in Creative Writing and Women and Gender Studies.  She took a year off before grad school, and conducted field work in Chiapas, Mexico on an anthropology project focusing on the Mayan village of Zinacantan. She is currently studying to get her PhD in Women’s Studies at the University of MD, College Park where her research focuses on LGBT/queer families and parenting.


3 thoughts on “National Poetry Month Day 23: “January Dawn Happening” by Jessica Vooris ’09

  1. I witnessed such a saving in winter weather as a child and your poem evoked the sounds ands smells of the stable and the still, cold air. Lovely.

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