Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2020

Rumination

Rumination
Photograph via Unsplash by Melinda Derksen.

Last night I dreamed of a cow watching over me as I slept, it’s large, wet eyes seeming to speak my fears of the coming day. In words that felt like silvery minnows in my mouth, I asked about monsters in the basement, ghosts in the attic, my son’s hopes I’d folded and hidden in the junk drawer. He listened, though didn’t answer, as if standing on the far side of a sun-blazed pasture, only partially aware of me. When I woke, I asked him for a magic bean. He turned from me as if to say this was not that kind of story. After I showered and dressed, I told him he may as well follow me to work. I didn’t know he’d chew cud the whole time I sat at my desk. It made it difficult to get anything done. First he’d grind on the right side of his mouth, then the left. He appeared to swallow but the food kept coming back up. I remembered learning something about this as a child and googled—the food goes to the Rumen where it mixes with digestive juices and gets softer, then gets pumped back to the mouth. This process gets repeated, the next time going to the Omasum, then later the Abomasum. It’s all so complicated I couldn’t keep it straight. I watched the cow the better part of that afternoon as he stood there chewing. Most things in this world are hidden from us, I thought. Most things we don’t see. The strange alchemy of a cow’s stomach. The grief beneath whispered voices. The hurt beneath a son’s downcast gaze. It was then I noticed that the cow was looking at me, had been watching in fact the entire time with the same wet eyes he’d turned on me in my sleep. I wondered then if I’d exhausted my cruelty.