Booksmart: Poem

By Ellyn Lichvar

The goat hollers out like a child
stuck in a well. Screams fill the air in waves.
He rests on the neighboring land,
just out of my sight but I can imagine
he is white, he is a he.
You hear it too and wade out belly deep
into the water to get nearer to the fence
to catch a glimpse, perhaps to smell
his odor, dank as a dampened mountain,
or maybe to taste the air he tastes,
trapped, worried. He is in a cage, you say,
fragile wires wrapped around a wooden
frame, delicate as honey dripped in tea,
then, Why doesn’t he just kick it down?
It reminds you of Scott Harvey
back in Shiremanstown, PA, when he climbed
to the school’s roof in fourth grade, said
he was fixing to jump off but then never did.
The goat’s screams are not waves
but rocks, tiny, hard, falling.
The sky is almost green today, like the wind
through the trees is scattering color,
an unctuous humidity hanging
like a hog belly above us.
I think of this goat’s ancestry,
his sharp hooves on the mountain,
the black points of balance.
The screaming transfixes us
because we too are screamers.
When you call out to him he answers,
this time a different scream to match
the one you muster from deep in your belly.
The water around you swells with waves.
I climb in to wet my hair.

Book Smart Challenge
Entries — either flash fiction or poetry — should be no more than 300 words. The deadline is the first business day of each month (for work to be published later that month). Contestants may submit up to three entries per month. LEO reserves the right to publish any submitted work in print and online. Please do not send originals; work will not be returned. Send entries to [email protected], with “Book Smart Challenge” in the subject line, or mail to LEO, Book Smart Challenge, 640 S. Fourth St., Ste. 100, Louisville, KY 40202.