No love for animals


my dad had no love for animals.
twice a day for six days a week
over the course of almost ten years
he collected a herd of
thirty Jersey/Guernsey crossbreeds
from grassy meadows
took them to the dairy
milked them and returned them to the field
to feed again on that rich Devon pasture

My dad had no love for animals
he spoke to the sheepdog with a
smile in his voice
he addressed each cow by name
gently patting their flanks to
guide them into the stalls
he knew the foibles of each mild beast as if
she was his child

my dad had no love for animlas
he would half-heartedly grumble about our cat
and her moulting coat leaving hairs that
floated up his nose and
the way she got under his feet when
he entered the house in the evening

sometimes in the garden
the cat wound her body around his legs
while he was digging
and not knowing that he was being observed
he sighed and pushed his spade into the ground

I heard him murmer gentle words
as he bent to pet her
he knew where she liked to be scratched

my dad had no love for animals
but he had compassion

© Jane Paterson Basil


12 thoughts on “No love for animals

    1. That question was on my mind when I was writing this. I only know that there is a difference. There have been people in my life who I have not felt any liking for, but I would not want to hurt them, because I wouldn’t want them to feel pain. Disliking someone is no excuse for doing damage to them.
      Although when someone deliberately hurts you that rule doesn’t neccesarily apply to the same extent.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good answer. This would make a really good discussion piece for a writing/poetry group. I was surprised when I saw questions for Alden Nowlan’s poem on that website I noted. You might think about adding some questions to relevant poetry in that BOOK you’re going to publish!!! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You probably haven’t read that post. It’s The Center for Civic Reflection ( The questions are at the bottom of the page. I admit I’d never seen the like of it with a poem. Story, yes, poem, no. Just struck me as I read through them they were wonderful teaching material. And since that’s what you’d like your poems and stories to do, it might be something you could work with.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I feel pretty good about it. My brither and i were talking about dad this evening, and he was commenting on how he knew the characters of each of the cows, and he treated them like the individuals that they were.


      1. When I’d go out in the pickup with my dad at night to dump bales or salt or just to see the cattle, he would tell me all their names. “That’s Bessie, that’s Ladybelle, . . .on and on and on..You have to realize he had hundreds of cows. It wasn’t until I was in my teens that I finally realized he was just making up names and randomly assigning them! That devil..

        Liked by 1 person

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