I was outside St. Cecelia's Rectory smoking a cigarette when a goat appeared beside me. It was mostly black and white, with a little reddish brown here and there. When I started to walk away, it followed. I was amused and delighted, but wondered what the laws were on this kind of thing. There's a leash law for dogs, but what about goats? People smiled at me and admired the goat. "It's not my goat," I explained. "It's the town's goat. I'm just taking my turn caring for it." "I didn't know we had a goat," one of them said. "I wonder when my turn is." "Soon," I said. "Be patient. Your time is coming." The goat stayed by my side. It stopped when I stopped. It looked up at me and I stared into its eyes. I felt he knew everything essential about me. We walked on. A police- man on his beat looked us over. "That's a mighty fine goat you got there," he said, stopping to admire. "It's the town's goat," I said. "His family goes back three-hundred years with us," I said, "from the beginning." The officer leaned forward to touch him, then stopped and looked up at me. "Mind if I pat him?" he asked. "Touching this goat will change your life," I said. "It's your decision." He thought real hard for a minute, and then stood up and said, "What's his name?" "He's called the Prince of Peace," I said. "God! This town is like a fairy tale. Everywhere you turn there's mystery and wonder. And I'm just a child playing cops and robbers forever. Please forgive me if I cry." "We forgive you, Officer," I said. "And we understand why you, more than anybody, should never touch the Prince." The goat and I walked on. It was getting dark and we were beginning to wonder where we would spend the night.
From Lost River by James Tate, published by Sarabande Books, Inc. Copyright © 2003 by James Tate. Reprinted by permission of Sarabande Books and the author. All rights reserved.
October 24, 2006
I’m alive you say
to no one in particular.
You are no one in particular.
That’s a good thing. The street is filled with souls
nested in good-looking bodies
that aren’t looking
in your direction. Someone is singing,
someone’s holding hands
with someone who is embarrassed by affection,
men and women made of light
drink in light
made of men and women.
They are alive you say,
meaning no one in particular.
One of them is singing, one is selling flowers,
one is so thin
you can almost see through her. One is looking
in your direction.
I’m alive you say, a little embarrassed
to be no one in particular, a soul
nested in a body
of men and women.
Someone is singing, someone is drinking
tea that is sweet and bitter.
It’s a good thing you say,
drinking in the light
of men and women,
men and women made of light, nested
in the sweet and bitter. A soul
is singing in your direction, so alive
you can almost see her.
From The Future Is Trying to Tell Us Something: New and Selected Poems (Sheep Meadow Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Joy Ladin. Used with the permission of the author.
To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can't see, can't hear,
Can't know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren't always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
We pray that it will be done
From In Mad Love and War © 1990 by Joy Harjo. Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.