On the bulletin board at our amazing local country store, Dan & Whit’s. Look closely…
Note: If you go to the cartoon on its original page, you’ll see this text when you hover the cursor over the cartoon: “Or a cabbage, for that matter. Goats make sense. Goats are fine.” Amen.
A Man in Blue
Under the French horns of a November afternoon
a man in blue is raking leaves
with a wide wooden rake (whose teeth are pegs
or rather, dowels). Next door
boys play soccer: “You got to start
over!” sort of. A round attic window
in a radiant gray house waits like a kettledrum.
“You got to start . . .” The Brahmsian day
lapses from waltz to march. The grass,
rough-cropped as Bruno Walter’s hair,
is stretched, strewn and humped beneath a sycamore
wide and high as an idea of heaven
in which Brahms turns his face like a bearded thumb
and says, “There is something I must tell you!”
to Bruno Walter. “In the first movement
of my Second, think of it as a family
planning where to go next summer
in terms of other summers. A material ecstasy,
subdued, recollective.” Bruno Walter
in a funny jacket with a turned-up collar
says, “Let me sing it for you.”
He waves his hands and through the vocalese-shaped spaces
of naked elms he draws a copper beech
ignited with a few late leaves. He bluely glazes
a rhododendron “a sea of leaves” against gold grass.
There is a snapping from the brightwork
of parked and rolling cars.
There almost has to be a heaven! so there could be
a place for Bruno Walter
who never needed the cry of a baton.
in a small, dusty, rather gritty, somewhat scratchy
Magnavox from which a forte
drops like a used Brillo Pad?
Frayed. But it’s hard to think of the sky as a thick glass floor
with thick-soled Viennese boots tromping about on it.
It’s a whole lot harder thinking of Brahms
in something soft, white, and flowing.
“Life,” he cries (here, in the last movement),
“is something more than beer and skittles!”
“And the something more
is a whole lot better than beer and skittles,”
says Bruno Walter,
darkly, under the sod. I don’t suppose it seems so dark
to a root. Who are these men in evening coats?
What are these thumps?
Where is Brahms?
And Bruno Walter?
Ensconced in resonant plump easy chairs
covered with scuffed brown leather
in a pungent autumn that blends leaf smoke
(sycamore, tobacco, other),
their nobility wound in a finale
like this calico cat
asleep, curled up in a breadbasket,
on a sideboard where the sun falls.
I was one of those horse girls.
One of those thousands of little girls who dreamed of horses all the time. I saved my allowance to buy plastic models of my favorite breeds, then spent hours playing with the models, hand-sewing saddle blankets for them, and collecting lawn clippings to dry and make into “hay”.
I somehow missed out on a lot of the standard children and teen literature, but name a horse book and I probably read it. In sixth grade, I checked out Walter Farley’s Man O’ War from the library every two weeks. Really. I checked it out, read it, returned it, and then renewed it right on the spot.
I reread and re-cried over the ending of Marguerite Henry’s The King of the Wind more times than I want to admit here in public. I belonged to “The Horse Book of The Month Club”.
When I finally badgered my parents enough to let me take riding lessons, I was at the barn every possible moment, taking lessons, mucking stalls (for free!), and, later, leading trail rides and teaching beginner classes.
I wanted to live and breathe horses all day long. I got high on horse smell. And the creak of saddle leather.
I was one of those horse girls.
Which partly explains why we have goats.
When, in my last year of high school, I finally got the chance to have a horse all to myself, I met my first goat. His name was Petey and he belonged to the barn, company for an older horse there. Petey charmed me. He was sweet, intelligent, and always good for a laugh. He was inquisitive. And cuddly, too.
I always imagined I’d have horses when I grew up, but as it turned, horses (at least so far) never really made sense for me, requiring space, money, and time that I never seemed to have all at once.
But goats seemed doable, and when I developed a love of goat cheese, and then developed a love for a man who also saw the merits of goats and cheese, well, things just naturally evolved.
Now, we have these darling goats, who bleat gently at us every time we step out onto the back porch that faces the barn. They crowd around me when I’m feeding hay, nibbling at my jacket, looking for cookies. Westie always meets me first, trying to get a good head rub from me before the others push her out of the way. Wellesley rubs her head against my legs, as if she’s a big cat, owning me. Willow nibbles my nose and gives me goat kisses. The boys, Albus and Lars, jockey for position near the hay bag I’m carrying, trying to sneak mouthfuls of hay as I make my way to the feeder.
As I do chores around the barn, they follow me.
If I have a tool (a screwdriver, a shovel), they must sniff and inspect it. Wherever I am, they must be, too.
On winter mornings, I’m loathe to leave the warmth of the house. My boots are out there on the porch, cold. I put on my coat. Sometimes my hat. Certainly my gloves.
I step out into the frigid air and mutter grumpily to myself. Then I look up, and toward the barn. There they are, looking out their window, watching me, waiting for me. I smile, step off the porch, call their names, start my day.
Sometimes, in the middle of all the world going haywire, you just have to sit back and giggle, and thank the stars that you have this girl, this silly, wonderful, heartful, kind, smart, gorgeous girl who knows how to make herself into an ear of corn, who knows how to hug you so tight your ribs nearly crack, who knows how to love you to the moon and back, more than more, more than most, more than toast.