The heifer strains against the contraction rippling through her body
and the first calf emerges, glistening. He lies blinking in the hay.
Above the rusting barn roof, above the Cascades, stars burn
in the ribbon of the Milky Way.
A woman lies blinking away tears that pool in the corners of her eyes,
her hands folded over a hollow belly
Below the silver cacophony of stars, below the sterile lights, only emptiness.
Again, the heifer’s breath quickens, her body heaves.
The second of the twins stretches out next to her brother in the straw.
The old farmer explains: this calf, the female of the duet,
will be deemed a “bummer calf,” barrenness her burden and her survival.
They try for seven years, lose three babies. She picks up journaling,
reads about Sarah and Elizabeth.
And then–two heartbeats. Under the warm flesh of the womb, under Abraham’s sky
a leap, a filling, an inheritance.
That spring the heifer grazes with her bummer calf,
dusty red coats under the dome of brilliant blue.