June in Missouri

The goat died sometime
in the early morning
from dehydration and worms.
They told me—I didn’t see
her small and half-grown body
stilled, didn’t know quite
what time it happened, or how,
if she was standing, if her eyes
were open, if she was alone.

The night before,
I had been with her,
cross-legged on the floor
beside her pen, sipping a beer,
going outside for a moment

to call Will in Connecticut,
two months since last
I’d seen him, hanging up
the phone feeling very far
away, and then returning

to the shrill pitch
of her bleating through
the door. Of course

life is precious. After leaving her
for bed, I washed my face
with tea-scented soap, slept
well enough, and woke up

feeling a little uneasy, but then warm
when I read a message Will
had sent me in the night, I love you
and I want you, I cried
happy tears into my pillow,
all the relief of a new
and living day, and then
I got up and they told me

the truth, that the goat was dead
and had been dying all the time
that I was with her, and then I remembered
the way her skin had puckered
and would not smooth
as I stroked it, the raw white
inside her eyelids, the way her lip
had curled and trembled
against a twig of hay, passed over it
again and again, and still
she would not eat.