What Do I Really Believe?

I believe that Benedictine
tastes like a meteor;

I believe that antitheses and hyperboles
dilated like slowly eaten fruit;

I believe that when a man takes long, deep breaths
he is trying not to prematurely ejaculate;

that tangerines are oranges, and full of juice,
and do not move unless they are being carried;

that the idea of repelling the rabbits
with moth flakes was not success;

that abattoirs binge
on Santa Gertrudis bulls;

that if I meet someone I like,
I start to do it unconsciously;

that a prisoner is painting the bars of his cell sky-blue,
and a tall giraffe is living in a summer-house in Maine;

that Beethoven was so deaf
he thought he was a painter;

that giants slugs
can be bigger than chihuahuas;

that I always seem to get
the wrong end of the stick;

that I love you very much,
but it doesn’t seem to make the slightest difference;

that it’s all very well
but why don’t you love me too?

that there ought to be a law against chihuahuas,
that no one has to groom a giant slug.

Selima Hill.



I want to be a cow
and not my mother’s daughter.
I want to be a cow
and not in love with you.
I want to feel free to feel calm.
I want to be a cow who never knows
the kind of love you ‘fall in love with’ with;
a queenly cow, with hips as big and sound
as a department store,
a cow the farmer milks on bended knee,
who when she dies will feel dawn
bending over her like lawn to wet her lips.

I want to be a cow,
nothing fancy –
a cargo of grass,
a hammock of soupy milk
whose floating and rocking and dribbling’s undisturbed
by the echo of hooves to the city;
of crunching boots;
of suspicious-looking trailers parked on verges;
of unscrupulous restaurant-owners
who stumble, pink-eyed, from stale beds
into a world of lobsters and warm telephones;
of streamlined Japanese freighters
ironing the night,
heavy with sweet desire like bowls of jam.

The Tibetans have 85 words for states of consciousness.
This dozy cow I want to be has none.
She doesn’t speak.
She doesn’t do housework or worry about her appearance.
She doesn’t roam.
Safe in her fleet
of shorn-white-bowl-like friends,
she needs, and loves, and’s loved by,
only this –
the farm I want to be a cow on too.

Don’t come looking for me.
Don’t come walking out into the bright sunlight
looking for me,
black in your gloves and stockings and sleeves
and large hat.
Don’t call the tractorman.
Don’t call the neighbours.
Don’t make a special fruit-cake for when I come home:
I’m not coming home.
I’m going to be a cowman’s counted cow.
I’m going to be a cow
and you won’t know me.

Selima Hill