I watched with my friends the farmer chased
by his wildly offended albino water buffalo.
We were on the crest of a low hill, too far to hear
his frantic breath ahead of the bovine gallop.
They were laughing and calling bets
on the bull or the man before the tree line
where the cursing praying peasant could maybe
find a low sturdy tree, the breadth of the horn tips
looking about a yard and a half wide angry swinging
at the bouncing biped buttocks.
I didn't think it was funny, and all I had
was two singles and change, too busy amazed
because nothing could suffer more than beasts
of burden, lashed to yoke and plow,
chewing cud while dragging a blade turning sodden
soil, blazing heat and stinging insects
thick as the hide on its back, its tufted tail
whipping pathetically, uselessly, on settled hoard.
What insult could that pliant brain
and stout heart not weather as it weathers
a typhoon's lashings? It must have been
unbearably cheap, mindlessly malignant.
Perhaps the blade caught immovable rock
and the farmer, worn down by life,
slapped it on its snout
as it chewed cud.