SIDESHOW - H. D. (Hilda Doolittle) Poems


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The goat without ears coughs
softly. Canvas flaps ripple,
starred banners; this is the tent
of animals partial or possessed
of extra parts: the four-legged hen,
the ram sprouting a bouquet
of horns. The ewe drags a hooved bundle
on the dirty straw, and in a corner
the most troubling gaze,
a face that looks up as if
through a foot of lake water:
D. 1980. The paint on the rough sign
bleeds. And on the tent flap
someone painted him galloping,
shorter than daisies, on a meadow
impossibly green, mountains stunned
by rain. He never galloped;
the crooked little legs held him
a foot above the dirt he studied
day after day and now cannot
even enter. Cotton batting pushes
the iridescent glass eyes slightly askew,
his mouth sewn up into that crooked
but somehow forgiving smile, as if
even after suffering the lifetime
of a small horse it is all right
to remain on earth with his blind,
satisfied stare -- lone star of squalor
in the miserable tent, my teacher.

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