I want to know about the goat bells,
for their small hollow knocking is in my head.

I want to know
if a bell might be worn by many goats in succession,
if it might be generations, centuries old,
and if a child in the village might be wakened
by the same, the very same music
as was her mother, and grandmother, and great-grandmother.

I want to know about the bell-maker.
When he hammered out the tin cup
and hung the small clapper, did he test the bell
for tone and timbre, thinking maybe of a goat he knew,
so that when you open your shutters
and the light rushes in, and you hear
a near, familiar tapping and tocking,
you can say Ah, my goat, Maria, is there -
and did he die long ago, the bell-maker,
and do they remember his name in the village,
and is "bell-maker" said along with his name,
and is a new baby sometimes called after him? -

or are they disposable bells that arrive in large boxes
all the way from Athens
or Taiwan?

I want to know what a bell means to its goat.
Do the bells at first drive the goats nearly mad,
and do they in the end settle for this madness
as they settle for the high winds
in the worlds where their clever feet take them
and the sweet still places they know
and the smell and scrunch of thyme
and the daily giving of the blessing of their milk -
and I want to know if, at the last,
it is the bell's kiss on the air
that betrays the goat to the man with the knife ...

... for the bell sounds the goat, its to-ings and fro-ings,
its choices and changes, and the silence of the bell
is the goat's musing and sleeping.

I want to know about the goat bells,
for their faint hollow harmonies are knocking                
at the bowl of the mountains under the sun
against the silvered pulse of the sea.

 

 

I wrote this on Crete, during/after a course led by Linda Chase.