Mar 20, 2012

Two Bulls Fighting

Written by Rosanna Oh

Read by Diana Khoi Nguyen

It must be a day in winter
in the painting where the bulls are fighting.
The two bulls hurl breaths of steam
that occupy the distance.
One is white, the other ginger.
I step closer —
the water and light are working everywhere.
Sweat drips like glittering wool along their backs
and from their testicles that sling
like pendulums below their bellies.

Bulls fight because they are bulls, my father explains,
shrugging his shoulders.
Without argument, I believe him —
he raised me to trust him this way,
just as his father trained the family’s bulls
to fight in fenced meadows.

Sometimes the bulls wandered into the hills,
fucking the neighbors’ cows before they were sold.
Then they would return to the village,
lowing as they followed their new masters
as though to graze or to die, no one would know.
The villagers spoke of the afterlife
as one would speak of bargaining: a bad person
turned into a horse, a bad horse into a monkey,
a bad monkey into a worm,
a good worm into a cow.

It is difficult to keep track of the animals
and the figures in the gallery, even though they stand still.
My father has already moved
to a painting with a lion clamping its jaws
on the back of a horse.