Today's poem is by Lynne Knight


There's a look of panic on his face.
He's herding goats, maybe his first day
at it, and the clumsy fence he's built
won't hold them back if they try to bolt.

If God wants them to bolt, they'll bolt.
He's merely an instrument of God's will,
having renounced his father's riches,
having refused the life where the soul
goes to sleep on a lush sofa
or wanders from the room where
the man and woman lie in lust.

The goats stink, as his clothes stink,
even the cape around his shoulders,
that has slipped off into muck
or torn on splintered wood.
He's in the desert, which should
be understood as where the soul
must go, stripped of all
possession, to find its way.

Earlier, one of the she-goats cried
horribly as she gave birth. He pulled
the afterbirth out when it seemed
stuck, and the bright mess made
his senses fail. But then it dried.
The sand gave way easily
for burial. He was grateful

for this, for the quiet, the heat,
the baby goat at the teat, the slow whirr
of flies at the herd - the life
He left behind undoing itself
like his footsteps when the wind
picks up and God's wrath seems
disproportionate. But the goats
bleat. When he lies down to sleep
among them, the nights are not cold.

after the painting of St. Francis by Giovanni Bellini

Copyright © 2007 Lynne Knight All rights reserved
from Defying the Flat Surface
The Ledge Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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