Amsterdam at Night, May 2005


Flight delayed, luggage lost,

Two pilgrims put up in a hotel.

Emergency toiletries and a five-dollar phone card

Courtesy of Dutch KLM.


Late that night we walked along holding hands,

Our body clocks telling us it was day,

Wearing tight-fitting clothes

Not tailored for pear-shaped Americans.


We took the sidewalk until it was no more,

Until we came to a fence,

A fence at the edge of a now-still airfield,

The edge of the universe as we knew it.


There in the corner, behind the fence,

A lone black-spotted Holstein cow stood silently,

Mid-chew, staring blankly at us as if she knew

We didn’t speak her language.


We fell silent.

We stared at her and she stared back.

We all stood still as the Netherland night.

We felt this must be a sign, but what?


And then—I shudder to report this,

I don’t know what possessed me,

But it happened and therefore—

I broke the black blanket of quiet to say,


“There’s something in the way she moos.”


Wordlessly, you turned and walked away,

And I haven’t seen you since.