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The goat without ears coughssoftly. Canvas flaps ripple,starred banners; this is the tentof animals partial or possessedof extra parts: the four-legged hen,the ram sprouting a bouquetof horns. The ewe drags a hooved bundleon the dirty straw, and in a cornerthe most troubling gaze,a face that looks up as ifthrough a foot of lake water:WORLD'S SMALLEST HORSE, B. 1976,D. 1980. The paint on the rough signbleeds. And on the tent flapsomeone painted him galloping,shorter than daisies, on a meadowimpossibly green, mountains stunnedby rain. He never galloped;the crooked little legs held hima foot above the dirt he studiedday after day and now cannoteven enter. Cotton batting pushesthe iridescent glass eyes slightly askew,his mouth sewn up into that crookedbut somehow forgiving smile, as ifeven after suffering the lifetimeof a small horse it is all rightto remain on earth with his blind,satisfied stare -- lone star of squalorin the miserable tent, my teacher.

Copyright 1987 Turtle, Swan: Poems by Mark Doty David R. Godine

Digital Facsimile of Original Pages Turtle, Swan, page 47 Turtle, Swan, page 48

© Mark Doty