The Steiny Road to Operadom | Karren LaLonde Alenier | www.scene4.com

Learning to Speak Cow

Karren Alenier

Just about now, we need as much love and close contact as we can get. But wait! We are still in the middle of a pandemic and for safety there is no touching. But here to the rescue is a new type of animal therapy—cow hugging. Well, not so new. The Dutch who call it koe knufflelen have been doing it for more than 14 years.


The idea is you spend 2-3 hours with a cow. Besides hugging, you might pet or recline against this large animal with a slow heart beat and a warm body. Cow huggers report that the cows like this attention and often lick the attentive human.


Back in the spring of 2015, the Steiny Road Poet was invited by Washington, DC's Shakespeare Theatre which was under the leadership of Michael Kahn to participate in their Poets Are Present program. It's probably the closest Steiny will get to being a poet laureate. The Poets Are Present program was occasioned by a production of David Ives' play The Metromaniacs, which was a hilarious piece based on Alexis Piron's La Métromanie. Steiny's participation meant agreeing to write a poem or two inspired by the experience at this play and being stationed in the lobby of this Shakespearean theater.


Given the talk we all suffered through in October about herd immunity or herd mentality, Steiny remembered that her participation in the Shakespeare Theatre's special poetry program yielded a poem that speaks to cow hugging, which she thinks we all need so much now.




Poets love love. We're sated by what seems.

Then unlike chatterers who speak in herds,

We seek the best of all possible…words.

The Metromaniacs


Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas spoke in code.

What is a tender button but a nipple a calf

knows well on his mother's udder. Who speaks

cow in Voltaire's best of all possible…

Was it Candide? Indeed, Alice Babette Toklas

served the best Sunday roast beef she

eschewed British mutton in favor of Monday's

Boeuf Bourguignon cubes of boneless

meat browned in three tablespoons of lard

several ounces of salt pork a dozen

tiny onions a dollop of flour two

cups of very old dry Burgundy redder

than blood garlic then a bouquet

of orange peel bay leaf sprig of thyme

sliver of nutmeg salt but never never

pepper. How poets pine among

pines. How they play at plays.


Go forward, hug a cow, and be healed. Be warned that eating the cow, no matter the recipe, has consequences!

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Scene4 Magazine — Karren Alenier

Karren Alenier is a poet and writer. She writes a monthly column and is a Senior Writer for Scene4. She is the author of The Steiny Road to Operadom: The Making of American Operas. Read her Blog.
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check the Archives.

©2020 Karren Alenier
©2020 Publication Scene4 Magazine


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