Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

I realize I posted a quote from Michael Perry’s Coop just yesterday, but I can’t help bringing this one to your attention today. Consider this a forewarning. I have a feeling this book’s going to be pregnant with quotable material.

Sometimes during the day when the cows were settled we kids went to the barn and lay lengthwise along the backs of the tamer animals to absorb their warmth. Because of the way she tucks her hindquarters, a cow at rest tilts off-kilter, allowing you to nestle rump to withers against the ridge of the backbone while draping your limbs across a hemisphere of abdomen. You rise and fall with each bovine breath, and if you hold especially still you will feel the subterranean thump of a five-pound heart. At regular intervals the cow will lurch softly and summon a cud. The dewlap ripples, and a wad of ruminated forage rises visibly up the throat. Rolling the bolus to her tongue, she’ll work her jaw forty or so times, swallow, wait a patient moment, then raise another. It’s hard to imagine regurgitation as a form of meditation, but for cows, it is so.

I thought this passage was worth quoting for exactly three reasons:

As far as quirky juxtaposition goes, I’m not sure you can get quirkier than pairing regurgitation with meditation. Or maybe you can but I’m just not trying hard enough.

And from a grammatical point of view, “summon a cud” has to be the quirkiest juxtaposition of noun and verb I have seen in recent memory. Possibly longer. But I love it. It’s perfect.

But the quirkiest position I would ever dare to juxt in real life would have to be laying on a cow’s back. It simply would not have occurred to me ever under any conditions, or at least I think so now. But since he mentioned it, it seems as natural and obvious as crawling into a hammock, which you know in your heart is a pretty goofy way to relax if you’ve ever done it.

Anyway, them’s my thoughts on that.

Coop once again | 6:23 pm CST
Category: Big Book of Quotations, books, daily drivel, entertainment, play
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