Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Thursday, April 17, 2008


"Hope is patience with the lamp lit."

-Tertullian, c. 160 - c. 225

One day two years ago in Ireland I was driving along a narrow dirt road with my brother and his significant other. We were in a desolate area. There were no houses in a five mile radius and it was as calm as I have ever witnessed the countryside.
As we turned a bend, we had to halt the car suddenly to avoid hitting the billy goat that was blocking our path.
He was clearly lost, and very desperate.
Every few moments he would cry out and dance and clatter from one side of the lane to the other, searching for the gap in the hedge that he had broken through from. He had escaped and was finding, perhaps, that he preferred his old life.
We rolled down the windows, and waited patiently in the warm sunshine of a July afternoon.
Then, between the bleats, we heard another voice.
For every cry of his there was an answering lady goat in a field. She was trying to let him know her position and he was doing his best to follow directions.

I'm in here!
Where's here?
I can't find you!
I'm in here!
Where's here?
Keep looking!
I am!

He was struggling to follow her voice and she kept crying so that he might eventually locate the source. The poor little fellow could not even remember which side of the road he had stepped out from.
I remember that the trees were almost bursting with the sort of green that no photograph or painting could ever quite capture. Everything was still and silent except for the blur of white that flashed before us and for the determined cries that broke the blue-sky afternoon.
He stuck his gnarled and knobby head into each thorny nook in the faint hope that some familiar leaf or stick might help him to recollect.
We could all see him considering that he might never get back to his loved one; he was filled with anguish and panic but they never broke the spell of communication. They talked back and forth constantly to each other until her voice grew louder to his ears and, purely from the magic of sound, he was able at last to rediscover that elusive break in the hedge, push his hairy self through and return to his friend.
As we rolled slowly onward we heard the distinctive ring of one more nagging bleat from the lady who was no doubt berating the wayward chap for going away in the first place.
We went on our way but did not forget.
In a manner of speaking, forever remembering the poignant scene keeps us, somehow, on that crumbly road forever watching two individuals refuse to give up on each other.
I consider it a fine place to remain in.


hele said...

This is so very beautiful. It makes my heart expand into that green and listen for a voice that is maybe calling me home.

tangobaby said...

What a beautiful story you've shared. I can picture it all in my imagination.

Beth said...

another great story and filled with truth. When our loved ones wander off into trouble, we keep reminding them of where we are until they find their way back.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Hele, thank you. I'm sure if you keep listening to that inner voice you'll come to great understandings, if your own musings are anything to judge by.

Tangobaby, it's always good to see you coming by here. I'm glad you can picture it because I didn't get a photo- I was afraid of making the goat run away and he was moving too quickly. It's always inspiring to know that I've been able to capture the moment. Thank you so much.

Beth, that's a lovely way to look at it. I feel as though there are many messages in that scene, and you've selected a very comforting one.

Jaime said...

Hi there :)

I wanted to come here and thank you so much for leaving such a lovely comment on my blog.

I love your stories...such beautiful simplicity. I loved this one especially...not just the story of this lost little goat, but the way you describe the beautiful green Irish's a place I have always always wanted to visit. One day :)

It's so nice to meet you...I will be back!

Pappy said...

Great short short story. You sucked me in. I was two paragraphs in before you took the first twist and showed us it was the goat who was lost. Very nicely done. The ending was special.

julochka said...

so well written! although i'm sitting in the office at my desk, i was transported to the little road in ireland. a wonderful diversion and a poignant reminder that we have to watch out for our loved ones. lovely!

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Jaime, thanks for your very kind words. Simplicity is what I was aiming for so it means a lot that you said it.
Texican, I've been keeping the story a while, just didn't have the right words to capture it. Comments about the structure are very important to me too, since I don't want to simply ramble :) And thanks for your thoughts on the ending as well.
Julie, as always, I enjoy your thoughtful comments. It's such a pleasure to be told that words take somebody to another place.

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