(There are two basic kinds of girl:
those who want to be a princess;
and those who want to be a pioneer.)
On a frozen winter evening
In a barn down at the dairy
Sits a maiden on a tall stool
Dressed in jeans and rubber boots.
In her hand she has a copy
Of a National Geographic
Which she reads in stolen moments
From her labors cold and wearing
Midst the smell of fresh manure,
And the pulsing sound of milkers
Holsteins chew their barley.
There between the yellow covers
Is the story of far travel:
Down a river called
Sixteen hundred miles of water
Zambia to Namibia
Round the corner to
Zambia, past Zimbabwe
river of Zambezi
Full of snorting, lumpy hippos.
There dwell baboons, snakes (black mambas)
Elephants, oxpeckers, catfish.
Crocodiles yawn in the shadows.
Cormorants fly overhead.
There the people fish the channels,
Paddle canoes full of cargo
As they have for generations
To the towns along the river
Where, “To travel is to dance.”
Soon the maiden at the dairy
Puts away her hasty reading,
Goes back to the heavy
Washes warm and steaming udders
While the motor of the milkers
And the country music station
Accompanies her wishing
To do something in her lifetime
That few women ever do.