By Brigit Pegeen Kelly
Listen: there was a goat's head hanging by ropes in a tree.
All night it hung there and sang. And those who heard it
Felt a hurt in their hearts and thought they were hearing
The song of a night bird. They sat up in their beds, and then
They lay back down again. In the night wind, the goat's head
Swayed back and forth, and from far off it shone faintly
The way the moonlight shone on the train track miles away
Beside which the goat's headless body lay. Some boys
Had hacked its head off. It was harder work than they had imagined.
The goat cried like a man and struggled hard. But they
Finished the job. They hung the bleeding head by the school
And then ran off into the darkness that seems to hide everything.
The head hung in the tree. The body lay by the tracks.
The head called to the body. The body to the head.
They missed each other. The missing grew large between them,
Until it pulled the heart right out of the body, until
The drawn heart flew toward the head, flew as a bird flies
Back to its cage and the familiar perch from which it trills.
Then the heart sang in the head, softly at first and then louder,
Sang long and low until the morning light came up over
The school and over the tree, and then the singing stopped...
The goat had belonged to a small girl. She named
The goat Broken Thorn Sweet Blackberry, named it after
The night's bush of stars, because the goat's silky hair
Was dark as well water, because it had eyes like wild fruit.
The girl lived near a high railroad track. At night
She heard the trains passing, the sweet sound of the train's horn
Pouring softly over her bed, and each morning she woke
To give the bleating goat his pail of warm milk. She sang
Him songs about girls with ropes and cooks in boats.
She brushed him with a stiff brush. She dreamed daily
That he grew bigger, and he did. She thought her dreaming
Made it so. But one night the girl didn't hear the train's horn,
And the next morning she woke to an empty yard. The goat
Was gone. Everything looked strange. It was as if a storm
Had passed through while she slept, wind and stones, rain
Stripping the branches of fruit. She knew that someone
Had stolen the goat and that he had come to harm. She called
To him. All morning and into the afternoon, she called
And called. She walked and walked. In her chest a bad feeling
Like the feeling of the stones gouging the soft undersides
Of her bare feet. Then somebody found the goat's body
By the high tracks, the flies already filling their soft bottles
At the goat's torn neck. Then somebody found the head
Hanging in a tree by the school. They hurried to take
These things away so that the girl would not see them.
They hurried to raise money to buy the girl another goat.
They hurried to find the boys who had done this, to hear
Them say it was a joke, a joke, it was nothing but a joke...
But listen: here is the point. The boys thought to have
Their fun and be done with it. It was harder work than they
Had imagined, this silly sacrifice, but they finished the job,
Whistling as they washed their large hands in the dark.
What they didn't know was that the goat's head was already
Singing behind them in the tree. What they didn't know
Was that the goat's head would go on singing, just for them,
Long after the ropes were down, and that they would learn to listen,
Pail after pail, stroke after patient stroke. They would
Wake in the night thinking they heard the wind in the trees
Or a night bird, but their hearts beating harder. There
Would be a whistle, a hum, a high murmur, and, at last, a song,
The low song a lost boy sings remembering his mother's call.
Not a cruel song, no, no, not cruel at all. This song
Is sweet. It is sweet. The heart dies of this sweetness.
I can't decide whether that is one of the saddest poems I have ever read, or oddly hopeful. It haunts me, anyway.
Nicked from insidian because it is a great idea to get this information out there (she got it from Electoral Vote Predictor 2004):
Several lawyers have contacted me about the issue of what to do if you show up to vote and the election officials say you are not registered. Here is the procedure. First, be absolutely sure you are in the correct precinct. If you are in the wrong precinct, in most states, your vote won't be counted. If you are not 100% certain of your polling place, go to www.mypollingplace.com and check. Alternatively, call the toll-free number 1-866-OUR-VOTE or your county clerk. If you are sure you are in the correct polling place and the officials claim you are not registered, ask for a provisional ballot and fill it out correctly. You are entitled to one by law. Politely, but firmly, insist on being given a provisional ballot.
That site and this morning's New York Times editorial page both have interesting explanations of possible scenarios if the vote is nearly too close to call, like how we could end up with a provisional President Cheney. On a quasi-related note, because I have not been having the best of weeks, I did not hear about anniesj's Secret Service troubles until last night. This upsets me greatly, not because the Secret Service were doing their job -- I understand that once a threat has been reported, they are obligated to follow procedure to check it out -- but because someone was vindictive or spiteful or ignorant enough to report a fellow LiveJournal user for writing a mock-prayer wishing harm on the President. Don't get me wrong: I am not in favor of death threats even in jest, as I spent a great deal of time explaining to some of my British friends after the Guardian editorial incident a few days ago. But this was not even a mocking death threat; this was a vocalized wish for divine intervention, as I understand it (the post in question has been removed for obvious reasons). I know that people on the internet, whether they're anonymous or something akin to friends, can be vicious and petty and resentful, but now this girl is going to have an FBI file to follow her through life because of one such person. It makes me sick.
On a happier note, Happy Birthday milochka! And ladyjaida is doing a brief survey on fan fiction and slash if you'd like to help her out. And this is relevant to nothing, but a woman I know somewhat from an internet group has written an article on the differences between kabbalah, Kabbalah, cabala and quabalah. I know a couple of people here may share my interest in this.
Am sending love and vibes to beeej, perkypaduan and ldybastet for conversation and fun and reality checks, and I just want to announce to the world that my friends here are the best. Truly, I have felt so uplifted and supported and stunned at the generosity of so many people -- some people I've met in real life, some people I may never get to meet because of physical distance -- you are remarkable and wonderful and have changed the way I think about what I've been writing of late and whom I've been doing it for. I'm still having moments of thinking that one can't really trust any correspondence in this medium, but then I think of the cases where that is so evidently not true.
Sox fans: you might be interested in this story on a movie rewrite based on the assumption that Boston would not, could not win being proved wrong. And now I have to tackle the enormous amount of work that has been dumped on me before getting dressed for an afternoon of Halloween with children. No photos till tomorrow as I am sure I won't have a chance to resize them till after I get Enterprise reviewed tonight. Have a great day and if you're off for the weekend, Happy Halloween and Good Samhain!
This is the same tree pictured in this entry, third photo down, taken by the friend in front of whose house I took my photo, but at a much earlier hour when the sun was not as direct. Isn't this tree gorgeous?