Goat Songs (I)
We walked to the meadow to catch butterflies, my brother swinging the net with his long tan arms, swinging, too, at the birds, at anything that moved. Sometimes he found translucent snake skins, discarded like rind. I rubbed them between my fingers, felt the absent muscle twitch. Most days we caught nothing, although my brother taught me names— ruby-throated hummingbird, mourning cloak, scarlet tanager. I liked the painted ladies best: so careful, so close we had to get to see those almost-human eyes, rimmed like an ancient Egyptian’s or a peacock’s tail, staring out from beneath the gently pulsing wing. Down to the ravine we walked, the deep v ending in a cold clear stream. We splashed through the mud; he was taller and quicker than me, and the hard scars beneath his skin grew harder. When we tumbled across the banks like spoor or seeds, I had heard nothing of the road for so long I had ceased to believe in the road.