The goats have come down
from the hills today.
Packed tight like starlings,
eyes flitting from empty detail
to empty detail: parked car,
closed door, open window.
Then, satisfied with the silence,
they have scattered like marbles.
One stumbles over the bumps
of a pelican crossing,
while another, building
in confidence, foregoes
the pavement entirely.
Pavements were made by humans.
Animals made roads, long before
we banished ourselves like rodents
to the edges of our own existence.
Now, the goats meander
down the middle of the street,
tails down and horns up,
crossing the roundabout
by clambering through
the ornamental shrubbery,
nibbling on passing leaves.
The high-street is different, all
railings and tough glass;
one learns that the hard way.
Another finds some crumbs
lacing the corners of an empty
crisp packet, intriguing, but far less so
than a fenced off garden,
haunting pristine cobbles
with the memory of woodland
cleared centuries ago. A local interest
board crowns the bizarre prison.
The air here is all corners.
Slowly though, things are coming
apart. A strand of cow-parsley
sneaks through a drain-cover, turned
cattle-grid on a skittering leg.
Patches of moss and weed
sprout from gaps in the paving
in asymmetric patterns,
not much of a snack, but something.
An ornamental tree’s roots
crack through the concrete.
It makes the turf uneven,
but the goats are used to that.
Out the far side of town,
the herd finds the beach.
The sand troubles their hooves
as each step sinks a little deeper,
but, eventually, one, then another,
plunges its fur into the grey sea.
It is too cold. Within minutes
they are leaving dripping shadows
all the way down the promenade,
back across the town, paying
little heed to the glass and
the fences and the pavements,
up towards the hills. Given time,
the hours of our absence growing
ever longer, the wasteland encroaching
ever further, perhaps they will return.
Hailing from West Dorset, Jonah Corren is a poet and singer-songwriter. His work has been published in Ink, Sweat & Tears, SPOONFEED and others. He is also an alumnus of BBC New Creatives (2019/20) and The Apples & Snakes Writing Room (2021).