Saturday, May 8, 2010

No Goats No Glory


Goat gone feral comes in where the fence is open

comes in and makes hay and nips the tree seedlings

and climbs the granite and bleats, through its line-

through-the-bubble-of-a-spirit-level eyes it tracks

our progress and bleats again. Its Boer heritage

is scripted in its brown head, floppy basset-hound ears,

and wind-tunnelled horns, curved back for swiftness.

Boer goats merged prosaically into the feral population

to increase carcass quality. To make wild meat. Purity

cult of culling made vastly more profitable. It’s a narrative.

Goat has one hoof missing-just a stump where it kicks

and scratches its chin, back left leg hobbling, counter-

balanced on rocks. Clots of hair hang like extra legs

off its flanks. It is beast to those who’d make devil

out of it, conjure it as Pan in the frolicking growth

of the rural, an easer of their psyches when drink

and blood flow in their mouths. To us, it is Goat

who deserves to live and its “wanton destruction”

the ranger cites as reason for shooting on sight

looks laughable as new houses go up, as dozers

push through the bush, as goats in their pens

bred for fibre and milk and meat nibble forage

down to the roots. Goat can live and we don’t know

its whereabouts. It can live outside nationalist tropes.

Its hobble is powerful as it mounts the outcrop

and peers down the hill. Pathetic not to know

that it thinks as hard as we do, that it can loathe

and empathize. Goat tells me so. I am being literal.

It speaks to me and I am learning to hear it speak.

It knows where to find water when there’s no water

to be found-it has learned to read the land

in its own lifetime and will breed and pass its learning

on and on if it can. Goat comes down and watches

us over its shoulder, shits on the wall of the rainwater

tank-our lifeline-and hobbles off

to where it prays, where it makes art.

-John Kinsella

This poem appeared in the 5/3 issue of The New Yorker Magazine