by Lydia Davis
Sarabande Books, 2011
37 pages, $9.95
Reviewed by Emily Scudder
He says to us: they don’t really do anything.
Then he says: But of course there is not a lot for them to do.
It is hard to resist a chapbook with a cow on the cover. It’s even harder when the cow is good-looking, standing in a green field, and staring straight at you. I like cows. Who doesn’t? Having worked on a dairy farm I have a sense of the cow - the one you milk, feed, let out, bring in. The Cows by Lydia Davis is not, however, about our active relationship with cows at all, or in other words humans are not in the picture. Good move. What Davis does is watch 3 cows from her kitchen window through the seasons and record her observations in spare precise lines of poetic prose. Or is it prose poetry? No matter.
way, separately, spaced far apart, they are like wide black strokes of a pen.
time, one walks away by herself to the far corner of the
field: at this moment, she does seem to have a mind of her own.
Lydia Davis makes this all look effortless. There is no Lydia in her lines. It’s about the cows. It’s that simple. Moo.