the gray expanse, like covered
wagons moving west.
The moon fell into
the brook behind our cabin
where its pieces shine.
You can be the wind
today. I'll be the brook—that
small one most walk by.
Last night as I walked through the gate after work and then my walk,
I saw the goats lying on the mini-trampoline, as is their new habit at night.
This time, as I neared them, neither got up. I approached quietly and crouched down.
I watched them, the peace they lived in.
Slowly I reached out and petted Pepper more gently than usual—soft strokes
down the length of her side, feeling
the bulge of her warm belly through her dusty fur.
Before this, they have always arisen and milled around me when I come home at night,
but now Pepper remained lying, forefeet tucked, head up, eyes gazing at something
only goats can see. I could hear her breathing,
as though she were inhaling and exhaling extra-long,
as one does sometimes in meditation.
Then she turned to me, with that breath of fermenting grass, and chewed her cud,
her jaw moving languidly side to side, as though this were another
part of her meditation. I leaned in and she offered
the flat bone of her forehead for my kiss.
Cookie lay in the opposite direction, along Pepper’s other side,
as though the ripples of communion reached her through her sister’s body,
as though my petting were being multiplied like loaves and fishes.
I thought, This is what I like—tendering the tenderest affection
and feeling it being received.
The night standing still around us.
The Authentic Voice
I wrote, “Great to hear from you,”
but it wasn’t, so I deleted that.
Then I wondered whether it was wonderful.
No. That would also be a stretch.
There were no sparkling lights,
no soaring feeling in the chest.
This person deserved the truth.
Perhaps it was cool.
“Cool to hear from you.”
What does that even mean?
One thing I knew for sure:
It wasn’t awesome.
They were not God or the Grand Canyon.
It was good to get that one off the table.
I briefly considered “swell,”
thinking it might be endearingly quirky,
or ironic, or one of those non-straightforward things.
But “swell” would require either an explanation,
or yet further, more overt quirkiness
to make sure they didn’t just think I was weird.
Finally, I settled on “good.”
Surely it was plain old good to hear from them.
But by then, it no longer was.
rain gathers, softens
rain gathers, softens
and spills, while
truck drivers sing
in their lonely cabs
bending down now
to gather it all
in a mason jar
what if we treated
as if our souls
had come to earth
you and I
would go to a fair.