Published on Academy of American Poets (

Self as Goat in Tree

Nine goats scamper up
the gnarly argan tree and graze it clean.
They ingest the wrinkled fruit whole,
though it’s the bitter pulp alone
that rouses their appetite for more.
Sated, they stare at the horizon
till branches wear thin and fall.
Farmers harvest goats’ droppings
to extract the pit rich in kernels of oil. 
Haven’t you too wished yourself a goat
perched punch-drunk on a linden tree,
blasé about the gold you might shit,
how it might serve both hunger and greed.
Haven’t you goaded yourself
to balance just a bit longer, 
chew on some fugitive scents,
forget what a ditch the earth is.


Copyright © 2018 by Mihaela Moscaliuc. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 17, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“One night after yet another round of disheartening eleven o’clock news, I tried to clear my mind by staring at the Goats in Trees calendar above my desk—a dozen nannies perched precariously in a thorny and semi-dead argan tree so insanely cute and outwardly content that I found myself laughing. Growing up, I was told with worrisome frequency that I was as stubborn as a goat, a true Capricorn. Here they were, on every page, my sisters, promising to carry me through the year. Then, as I started reading about the economics of argan oil, how growing demand benefits Moroccan communities but also poses significant concerns about forest sustainability and animal mistreatment, things got complicated. They always do. I don’t know what to do with my lovely goats anymore.”
—Mihaela Moscaliuc


Mihaela Moscaliuc

Mihaela Moscaliuc is the author of Immigrant Model (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015) and Father Dirt (Alice James Books, 2010).

Date Published: 2018-10-17

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