Welcome back to Magnetic North, where winter’s grip is loosening, day by day, drip by drip, and we who count the hours of daylight wax poetic…over just about anything.
As a woman of a certain age, it’s been a while since I wrote love poems of the exotic, e.e. cummings sort.
Still, this early spring finds me musing on the touch of a beloved, but in a still-frozen goat corral. Here, I contemplate; a white and cinnamon colored chicken pecks stray grains from the goats’ hay, a widowed tom turkey trills his displeasure over the slim pickings left for him, and six youngish goats chew contentedly on green hay as Summer, my ravishing brunette llama, glides among them like a soft breeze.
And I, - the Goddess of Breakfast and Dinner, a/k/a She Who Gives Treats and Needles in the Butt - I sit on a lawn chair in the 10 a.m. sunshine, eating dark chocolate studded with sea salt and almonds and reading poetry. Out loud.
Last week I found the poem, “Pescadero” by Mark Doty, in the New Yorker magazine. I am beginning to suspect that at least one of the senior staff of this publication is as much a goat fancier as yours truly. Last month, a goat cartoon, now a fairly mushy goat poem.
My goats like poetry of all kinds. Shakespeare’s sonnets. Even mine. This poem, though, found a particularly receptive audience. Bosco, the lone male, was the exception, choosing instead to butt and eat his way around the corral. But his two younger cousins, cashmere cuties Daisy and Dolly, batted their long eyelashes as I read. And Summer lifted her upper lip, showing two teeth, a llama’s way of saying, “Ohhhhh, that’s soooooooo nice!”
It seemed only fair to share this lovely poem with many. And so, I give to you my friends, “Pescadero” by Mark Doty.
The little goats like my mouth and fingers,
and one stands up against the wire fence, and taps on the fence board/
a hoof made blacker by the dirt of the field,
pushes her mouth forward to my mouth,
so that I can see the smallish squared seeds of her teeth,
and the bristle-whiskers,
and then she kisses me, though I know it doesn’t mean “kiss,”
then leans her head way back, arcing her spine, goat yoga,
all pleasure and greeting and then good-natured indifference; she loves me,
she likes me a lot, she takes interest in me, she doesn’t know me at all
or need to, having thus acknowledged me. Though I am all happiness,
since I have been welcomed by the field’s small envoy, and the splayed hoof,
fragrant with soil, has rested on the fence board beside my hand.
Nice, huh? Add chocolate and sunshine and that’s my idea of heaven on earth.
I’ll leave it to other poets to extol the other signs of spring; the softening of the ice collar around Superior, the re-emergence of the whitetail deer who nibble greedily on something just uncovered by the thaw on the south-facing slopes along Highway 61, and the eagles - soaring overhead, feasting on roadkill in the ditches and taking up residence in last year’s nests
I won’t ignore these wonders. But my poetic bursts of fancy spend themselves right in my own backyard, among creatures who, like my goat-lover friend Mark Doty, acknowledge my presence, welcome me into their world and make my day. Every day. Rain or shine.
This segment aired on Saturday, March 6.