the story i write

Posted by on September 27, 2015 in blog | 0 comments

etta aretha june loretta

{weight | waiting for breath}

the cacophony of cicada song and the flimsy silk of spider architecture, the sharp angle of high sun and low shadow cast by the oak tree, heavy-leafed and sentinel in the front yard. i have been lost in all the heat holds dear, adrift in the glare of neon questions and answers in closets without keys.
numb, heavy-limbed, i’ve stumbled through summer.

it heartens me that the goats ask for little, content with their 60 hooves, 30 horns, 15 rumens swishing waves of rhythm as i press my ear against the fur of their taut, sun-warmed sides.

i am grounded by their rhythms, their breath, their steady offerings of presence and strength.

in our story together, we have reached the decade milestone. the four elders {aretha, loretta, etta & june} were transported here in the camper of our small pick-up truck and tumbled into the pasture beneath the blackest of skies and a rainstorm fierce and unrelenting, a fingertip of small havoc from the wilds that birthed hurricane katrina on the 29th of august, 2005.

babies then at just three months old, the four girls were not accustomed to humans. they fled from me, from the torrent of rain, from the truck. they cowered low in the shelter of their small barn while the grasses shivered and the sky bellowed.

hours before our minor pasture drama played out, lives elsewhere had been upended by this storm, and in the days that followed, i moved slow and dumb, watching the sadness unfold and hover, a woolen blanket soaked in tears and sweat and storm surge, lurking in news stories, across computer screen, in my own work as a journalist. as i lumbered forward, helpless in the frenzy i watched, the goats moved from me, a magnetic force propelling them away as i cradled in my hands the worry for lives altered and landscapes destroyed.

my mourning from afar was for naught; i rescued no one. i rebuilt nothing. but in the ten years since the day when four goats arrived, seemingly dropped from a torrent into the riot of unkempt grasses, i’ve walked into the pasture each morning, each evening, holding a silent prayer in my heart for all whose lives were changed in the chaos of that storm.

perhaps it is in that silence that i connected with the four elders and the others. the herd (more than four, now) is no longer rescues and misfits and fearful creatures. they are strong hoofs and loving hearts. they are poetry, story and song.

{experiences | reminding}

last year, when i took ‘goatballad’ across state lines for the first time, i was invited to show the work in bay saint louis, ms.– a town destroyed by katrina.

in that town, i discovered a tapestry of abundant love, tenacity and artistic spirit, a collective consciousness of hope and a passion for life that i’d never before experienced, but once exposed to it, found myself craving it all: the color and texture of artists who share story in each painting, photographers who inspire and dream, silversmiths, ceramicists, shopkeepers, community builders, art supporters and makers, teachers, social workers. strong, beautiful women flourishing, together.

a place leveled by ocean and wind. its energy lovingly reawakened by hands & he{art}s & flower crowns.

{in my dreams i wear a flower crown. i wake to dust.}

i rest my head against charlie’s goatbelly. i feel, more than hear, the swish of rumen, ocean crashing against shore. the subtle whisper of change, an electric current of being awake and alive and passionate about the smallest of things that in my stupor i’ve forgotten to see.

{the yellow-backed spider waits patiently near the garden hose on her orb of silk, growing fatter each day while writing the stories of her prey in the strands of her home. a squirrel builds a nest. plastic bag and goat fur. discarded newsprint and privet sticks. scurrying across my boots to build an elaborate structure in the sky-highest branches of the dead cedar tree with lower twisted limbs the goats favor as scratching posts for the tiny thatch of fur between their horns. the wasps hum of their future in their nest on the front porch rafter, wing-rushing in arabesques past me as i clip clothespins to the quilt that moves in the whispers of a latesummer morning.}

i sit with mattie in the pasture dirt. seven months old, moonspotted, she breathes magic as she sleeps, her head on my shoulder, eyelashes catching shimmer from the sun, her body settles into mine as she finds her way into dream.

the elders stand stoic on goat hill. they gaze outward, away from me, into wind, into grasses and trees beyond.

i wonder about the story the spider writes.

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