Monument

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Monument

A cow is screaming across the arroyo. Fireworks explode in honor of whatever saint’s day is being celebrated this week, drowning out her loud shrieking bellows. It is twelve hours later that someone finds the cow, her horns caught in the wire fence. Too late to save her, they do the kind thing and a single shot rings out. When her owner leaves her for the buzzards, a stench settles over the neighborhood, and we pay a man to cover her in quicklime. It is months later that someone ventures up to find a perfect effigy of the cow—jaws open in her last cries of agony. In mistaking concrete for quicklime, the man we paid to do away with her has instead constructed her monument. Immortalized on that mountain where few others will ever see her, I often see her in my dreams.

For dVerse Poets, we were to write a story of 144 words or less that made use of the line about the screaming cow above. You can read the stories others wrote on the topic by hitting the dVerse link above. This one is exactly 144 words. True story, by the way.

25 thoughts on “Monument

  1. pvcann

    Bleak and confronting, life and death and the way we do or don’t care. Rings true for me as I was a cattle-farmer for a time, and rescuing cows from wire fencing was not uncommon. You give the reality without sugar-coating it, yet give something positive in the ending.

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  2. kim881

    Oh my goodness, Judy! Your description is so shockingly realistic, with horrific appeal to the senses, with the ringing of the single shot, the stench settling over the neighbourhood, and the image of the cow’s jaws open in cries of agony. I feel so sorry for the cow. Is that true about the quicklime/concrete error?

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      I know. Seems impossible, but it happened. I live in Mexico and there is a mountain chain behind me with a trail leading up from just behind my house. There are cornfields and pastures of cattle there and some say some pot fields..which keep me from venturing too far up. There are also little lakes and on the other side of the mountains, three little towns. In my first years of living here, there were constantly cattle and sheep and goats going up and down the road by my house from the highland pastures down to the lake. Now that is not so common, although there are donkeys going up and coming down with loads of firewood daily. We’re sort of caught between two time periods here. Which is part of the reason I love it so.

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  3. lillian

    Wow! The detail here makes the horror of the happening so real. And then to read your answer to Kim that what happened with the switch between the quick lime and the concrete…whew! To cement the screaming jaw….to be a monument to pain and horror.
    There was recently a story on the news here, with video, of two elk (moose?) who were fighting and their antlers got tangled together and they kept jerking etc and somehow ended up in a stream still entangled but two hunters nearby actually helped them get untangled while someone filmed it, and they all let the animals get away safely. Your post reminded me of that.

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