Mary Ann Rockwell


Although on the front of the milk carton
the pigtailed girl is thinking her life will start soon,
I prefer the back: presentation of cows,
one watching the usual phantasmic sun
finally lift his head from hill-thighs.
Gig for some hungry BFA—
a wood cut (would cut?) with four colors:
black and white for definition,
green and red for initiation.
I know the white sky is really blue.
Did the cows sleep well?
The sun has a halo of black lightning.
The valley is burdened with jagged blackbirds
that suggest tufts, dung.
Wanting to sway in the foreground are
perhaps peonies.
Their fortune-paper heads startle
dream-starved me.
The main cow's nose angling
a distant apple tree—
blood bobs etched on black
that could wait forever.
The white of the central cow
looks to be its x-ray.
I want to be the right background cow.



In modern usage, the vivid literary description of a specific work of art, such as a painting, sculpture, tapestry, church, and the like. Originally, the term more broadly applied to a description in words of any experience, person, or thing.