Snapshot: The Cow and the Girl By Louhi Pohjola

Snapshot: The Cow and the Girl

The cow looks irate, fettered
to the back of the iron-wheeled cart
that is poised to flee from bombs
spitting high overhead

In the grainy image, its nostrils snuffle fear
while the girl watches, hands on hips,
in a thin cotton dress, small breasts
nudging the fabric. She is rooted
in this place

like the bellflowers she plunked into a jar yesterday

A slight tremor of silky birch leaves
in the early June breeze and pine needles
that slap against the farmhouse roof are coded
messages from the advancing front:

Best to sweep the kitchen floor quickly and get out, girl

She drives the cart towards sanctuary,
to the train that will usher them west, away
from the windows and doors of their world.
But the cow’s belly, bloated from foraging,
prevents their passage and the girl’s
desperation, written in wildish tears,
leaves them both frantic and left behind

along with the glass jar, the bellflowers, and the iron-wheeled cart

She guides her best-loved by the worn-out rope
around candle-white birch and bilberry bushes
where they fall asleep on the spongy floor,
pungent with chanterelles, and where they are found,
the girl’s arm across her neck, in trampled
lingonberry flowers, their bloodied white bells

ringing out the end of the long winter’s snow.

By Louhi Pohjola


Louhi was born in Montreal, Canada, to Finnish immigrant parents. She was a biologist before teaching sciences and humanities in a small high school in southern Oregon. She is an avid fly-fisherwoman and river rock connoisseur who lives in Portland, Oregon, with her terrier who thinks he is a cat.

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