The Maier Museum of Art
at Randolph College

“Cow #1” by Karl Speer ’12

Arthur Dove, Cow #1, 1935, tempera on canvas.

Arthur Dove, Cow #1, 1935, tempera on canvas. Purchase made possible by the Fine Arts Fund, 1957. Collection of the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College, founded as Randolph-Macon Woman’s College.

after Arthur Dove’s Cow #1


I see the fog days of summer,
when early risers stalk the streets
to see who shifts through the morning mist.
A vagrant shambles on, and we imagine
that we hear his blessing on the blurry air,
on the damp that hugs him
to hide him from the heat. A dancer
wanders out. He sways in step.
We watch his veiled art like kids at a peep show.

I see the droop days of summer,
when everything is wondrous waste,
deck chairs with broken cup holders
dropping our too-sour lemonade
to feed the worms and snails.
I see the fight days of summer,
when grass stains your knees
and bodies clash and cling.
The heat burns us inside, and ice cream
and pool parties cannot cool
our young rage. We never see
the blood that stains the tips
of grass like teeth.

I see the lust days of summer,
when shade calls the girls
and girls call the boys with their midriffs
and cleavage and thighs. Feet
unhidden by flip-flops
curl and stretch as hands, fingers
touch, stroke, crave everything and fear
it all at the same time.

I see the end days of summer,
when hills are at our backs
and winds lap at us, petting
us like cute dogs. The sun
smiles and blushes pinks, purples,
reds, oranges, and yellows, everything pastels,
the world in soft-focus.
We see the smudge of black the sun
will leave. We can’t laugh forever.

Karl Speer ’12 lives in Lynchburg, Virginia, and attends Randolph College. His short stories and poems have been published in Randolph College’s art and literary journal, Hail, Muse!; and in high school he was the recipient of several literary awards for his poetry and creative essays.