Diane Glancy

Self-Portrait as a Cattle Trail

An overland route traveled upon— leaving hoof marks and a swale
on the land

 

cattle—
bovine animals with four feet, esp. domesticated members of the
genus Bos, as cows and steers
Middle English catel, from Anglo-French katil, chatel personal
property, from Medieval Latin capitale wealth from capitalis of
the head—

trail—
Middle English trailen, probably from Old French trailler, to hunt
without a foreknown course, from Vulgar Latin trāgulāre, to
make a deer double back and forth, perhaps alteration [influenced
by Latin trāgula, dragnet] of Latin trahere, to pull, draw

cattle trail—
to circle now the animal— not to hunt— but to drive to slaughter.
walk walk huff huff snort snort— a drover recorded the moanings
of the cattle— where water? where grass? but they poke us on
dust lifting and falling like pages turning in a journal.

Later my father worked in the stockyards in Kansas.  By then
the cattle were transported by train under a lilac cloud in the west.

Later I drive the same route Texas to Kansas circling back and
back again— drawing gasoline from roadside tanks.  Myself
driving.  Myself driven upon by the weight of measure.  Over
old cattle trails— the steady movement of the car— my foot
on the gas pedal— keep them moving.

 

Join the conversation