This is Hamish the Highland Bull we met last fall. He lives in this field in a village called Callander in Killmahog, Scotland. Nearby is a 250-year-old mill with original water wheel. Because meals are served all day, lots of travel coaches loaded with visitors stop here; consequently Hamish is probably one of the most photographed bulls in the world . . . and that’s no bull! (Sorry, ‘couldn’t help myself! ) If you’ve got euros burning a hole in your pocket, the Trossachs Wollenmill is adjacent. You can easily drop a few hundred euros in five minutes or less; it’s so easy to get carried away by all that wool.
For the Romantic among you, according to the United Kingdom Travel Blog, Hamish is supposed to have a wife named Heather and a daughter called Honey. You can read more here directly from the site if you’d like. I don’t remember seeing Heather or Honey myself but then I didn’t look for them. They may have been there. The only purpose of this photograph–besides the fact I love to take pictures of animals–is to have an excuse to show it to you and at the same time introduce you to a contemporary poet who inspires me with his simple and direct approach to writing poetry. Anyone who’s ever lived near cows–and probably those who haven’t as well–will appreciate the picture Billy paints here. I may get around to writing a poem myself some day.
AFTERNOON WITH IRISH COWS
by Billy Collins
There were a few dozen who occupied the field
across the road from where we lived,
stepping all day from tuft to tuft,
their big heads down in the soft grass,
though I would sometimes pass a window
and look out to see the field suddenly empty
as if they had taken wing, flown off to another country.
Then later, I would open the blue front door,
and again the field would be full of their munching
or they would be lying down
on the black-and-white maps of their sides,
facing in all directions, waiting for rain.
How mysterious, how patient and dumbfounded
they appear in the long quiet of the afternoon.
But every once in a while, one of them
would let out a sound so phenomenal
that I would put down the paper
or the knife I was cutting an apple with
and walk across the road to the stone wall
to see which one of them was being torched
or pierced through the side with a long spear.
Yes, it sounded like pain until I could see
the noisy one, anchored there on all fours,
her neck outstretched, her bellowing head
laboring upward as she gave voice
to the rising, full-bodied cry
that began in the darkness of her belly
and echoed up through her bowed ribs into her gaping mouth.
Then I knew that she was only announcing
the large, unadulterated cowness of herself,
pouring out the ancient apologia of her kind
to all the green fields and the gray clouds,
to the limestone hills and the inlet of the blue bay,
while she regarded my head and shoulders
above the wall with one wild, shocking eye.