The Goat House by Eileen Van Hook

It’s a clear summer morning at the horse rescue farm where I volunteer. I’ve arrived early in order to get a few hours in before the heat becomes unbearable. My current project is the scraping and painting of the ramshackle goat house. The wood siding is in poor shape, rough, dry and rotted in places. The Barn Red is sucked up quickly no matter how thickly I slap it on. It’s a struggle to get into all the cracks and crevices but I’m doing my best. Gnats are buzzing around my head and the resident dogs keep running between me and the freshly painted siding. Do the goats care? No, they are not happy with me. Apparently I’m disturbing them with all this scrapping and slapping. They are butting the inside wall to demonstrate their displeasure. In addition, the alpha goat is staring at me through an open window with his strange yellow eyes. I’m afraid I’m getting the “goat eye”. Those eyes with their horizontal pupils make me uncomfortable—they seem slightly satanic. I understand that their pupils are shaped that way to afford them protection from predators. That does not comfort me. So far I’ve been painting the back and sides of the building where the goats have no access. On my next visit, I will be working on the front of the building which is within their penned area. The manager assures me that she will close the goats in the house so they don’t head-butt me. Good idea! Head-butting is not my only concern. These goats have a reputation of fainting for attention and I’m not about to resuscitate a goat.

Eileen Van Hook‘s poetry has been published in various literary journals and anthologies. She placed first in a poetry contest in “Writer’s Journal”, is a Pushcart Prize Nominee and has been recognized twice in the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Contest with an Editor’s Choice (2015) and Second Place (2017).