j' (borzoi_schenok) wrote in fulltime_dreamr,

James Tate

It Happens Like This

I was outside St. Cecelia's Rectory

smoking a cigarette when a goat appeared beside me.

It was mostly black and white, with a little reddish

brown here and there. When I started to walk away,

it followed. I was amused and delighted, but wondered

what the laws were on this kind of thing. There's

a leash law for dogs, but what about goats? People

smiled at me and admired the goat. "It's not my goat,"

I explained. "It's the town's goat. I'm just taking

my turn caring for it." "I didn't know we had a goat,"

one of them said. "I wonder when my turn is." "Soon,"

I said. "Be patient. Your time is coming." The goat

stayed by my side. It stopped when I stopped. It looked

up at me and I stared into its eyes. I felt he knew

everything essential about me. We walked on. A police-

man on his beat looked us over. "That's a mighty

fine goat you got there," he said, stopping to admire.

"It's the town's goat," I said. "His family goes back

three-hundred years with us," I said, "from the beginning."

The officer leaned forward to touch him, then stopped

and looked up at me. "Mind if I pat him?" he asked.

"Touching this goat will change your life," I said.

"It's your decision." He thought real hard for a minute,

and then stood up and said, "What's his name?" "He's

called the Prince of Peace," I said. "God! This town

is like a fairy tale. Everywhere you turn there's mystery

and wonder. And I'm just a child playing cops and robbers

forever. Please forgive me if I cry." "We forgive you,

Officer," I said. "And we understand why you, more than

anybody, should never touch the Prince." The goat and

I walked on. It was getting dark and we were beginning

to wonder where we would spend the night.
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