Cow Palace

Mary Ellen Talley

I challenge you to empty your coin purse on the dairy counter where probiotics haven’t been advertised over the loudspeaker yet.  Back to basics.  Poverty is a three-syllable word for single payer payment, short changed.  Did I short change you as you laid comatose, not even knowing your impediment of sorrow?  Could you rise, as The Milkmaid, skimming cream from the white jug, bring a crust of bread to the disconsolate?  Basket on the wall, lantern, needle, thread masquerading as melodramatic anticoagulants that missed their “best by” date. Surely the drip continues in its hang down slow direction. What if the wick burns to ash? Slip an air bubble in the I-V? There’s a bad dream rising. Gravity pulls us past the nurse’s station where the expert mender discovered a knot in the thread. Your stitches were perfectly blind.  Rehab could’ve succeeded as an ultimatum. Walk a block to cure the hot thirst. If not for this low-grade anxiety genetic drip drop, would either of us be in this cow palace? I wander in under the milk bottle sign and there you are at the repurposed dairy counter. You send me back to your body with a root beer float not even asking if I want any sriracha sauce. Would the doctor permit double dribble on your lips? Would the hot sauce burn? There is so much not to say.


Mary Ellen Talley’s poems have recently been published in Cirque, U City Review and Ekphrastic Review as well as in anthologies, The Doll Collection and The Way to My Heart. She worked for many years with words and children as a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) in Seattle public schools.

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