Squat, flat-bottomed clouds
     sat above grazing angus
          whose black was stark
               in the dusky light.

West the goldenrod
     and milkweed tilted,
          west the prairie rose,
               placating the landscape.

Suddenly the sky
     cracked, burst
          into glint,
               soothed the air,

carried the eye
     back to the cattle, who shuffled
          one against the other,
               flank to flank,

freed then from flies,
     from dust and itch,
          and resumed
               their archaic and staid grazing.

Athena Kildegaard is the author of four books of poetry: Ventriloquy, recently released from Tinderbox Editions, Rare Momentum, Bodies of Light (a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award), and Cloves & Honey (a finalist for the Midwest Book Award). She lives in Morris, Minnesota, where she teaches.