Friday, August 8, 2008

Regarding Goats


graphite, colored pencil

I took myself to the recent Rock County 4-H fair, armed with an appetite and my camera. I'm a sucker for nasty fair food: fresh squeezed lemonade, deep fried cheese curds, cream puffs. I try to mitigate the effects of eating this sort of junk by parking the car blocks away and walking, but I know I'd have to park in, say, Beloit, to work off the effects of one cream puff. Still, I only indulge once (or twice) a year. I like to tour the midway, watching the children on the rides, take a low walk through the 4-H project barns to see the home sewn outfits and wood projects. But mostly I like walking through the animal barns, watching the 4-H kids washing and blow-drying their animals for the ring, or lounging in folding chairs playing cards.

I like the animals too, especially the goats. We didn't have goats when I lived on the farm as a girl. Dad raised purebred holsteins, and we had the usual complement of barn cats and a couple dogs. For a few years we had a nasty Shetland/Welsh pony. But no goats. I'm not sure why they appeal to me so much. Their weird eyes, pale, with pupils that slit horizontally? Their petite size? Or maybe it's just that they seem to love attention, rubbing up against their pens, bleating, leaning into it when I bend to scratch them behind their ears. Anyway, I sketched from a couple photos I took that day, and I can't resist finding a poem to go along with the sketch.

Ginger
Carl Rakosi

Am I the only one
watching
my neighbour’s
frolicksome goat,
Ginger,
tied to a pecan tree?
All morning
it has been examining
an empty bushel basket
and has lifted
one leg delicately
like a circus horse
as if to roll it,
but whether to do that
or to butt it
with its small horns,
that is the question.
Not of great moment,
no signing of the Charter,
but like air music,
quickest of the elements.
Towards which I leaped!

In form
its own grace,
appearing,
as it passed
in retrospect, classical.

The real goat stayed,
imperturbable,
the body solid
as a four-square loom
and delivered me
from abstraction.
His coloring,
greyish-soft shades,
their dark and light
passing into each other
as in an antique rubbing.

I now found myself
sitting so near,
my shade,
as in the Inferno,
sensed his,
but he gave no sign
of my presence,
even when I stroked him
and my heart leaped
at the gentle fleece,
too fine for a hard life.
He continued nibbling
on a dry bush.

I would not have believed
unconcern
could bolster the man in me
and be so enduring.
Sic transit, not caring
whether it is recognized,
The Divine
(from another age).

He was poking
into the underbush now
and reached across my head
for the small spiny twigs.

At that the phase
changed
and a sensuous trembling
hung in the air,
as when a bee is about
to descend
on blossoming clover,
and I
felt myself being pulled
as by a line
from the invisible
other side
to enter goathood,
deeper than sight.


1 comment:

Teri C said...

You did a gorgeous job on this goat. I love the way he is looking right at me. I was waiting for him to baaaaaa