Kevin Goodan

Near the Heart of Happening

The foal hangs halfway out
and the mare strains
but can’t push anymore.
I bring a bucket of cold river water
across the field. Haboo
I say in her ear,
what the Skagit children said
when the storyteller stopped:
keep the story going.
They said it with clamor,
with hands and voices
louder each time
but I am soft with it,
cool water on her neck.
Haboo I say reaching in
where the hips have locked
as she groans and falters.
Haboo for the shanks I grab
and jerk, for the spine
popping and the hips coming free.
Haboo for the foal lying in the dirt
as the mare nudges
and cleans its body
as the breathing stops.
Haboo as the body cools
as we stay with it after
as light begins,
as I regard the still air,
the meadowlark, the weight
of its bright singing.

Kevin Goodan
Near the Heart of Happening is reprinted from In The Ghost-House Acquainted (Alice James Books, 2004).