A gray barn cat with black stripes
lounges on a pile of yellowed newspapers 
stacked against a filthy wall patched with tin
surveying the morning routine 

Hay in the trough
cows chained to their stanchions 
their breath billowing up 
to the low white ceiling speckled with dirt and manure 

A weathered man shuffles down the aisle 
talking softly as he settles in beside each cow in turn