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Goats

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Wherever the earth is crag and scrub, the goats are there—the black ones, girlishly skipping, leaping their little leaps from rock to rock. I’ve loved their nerve and frisk since I was small.

Once my grandfather gave me one of my own. He showed me how I could serve myself when I got hungry, from the full-feeling bags there like warmish wineskins, where I’d let my hands linger some before bringing my mouth close, so the milk wouldn’t go to waste on my face, my neck, even my naked chest, which did happen sometimes, who knows if on purpose, my mind dwelling all the while on the savory-smelling vulvazinha. I called her Maltesa; she was my horse; I could almost say she was my first woman.

Source: Poetry (June 2011)

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This poem originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

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Goats

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  • Portuguese poet and translator Eugénio de Andrade was born José Fontinhas in Póvoa de Atalaia, Portugal. After his parents separated, the poet moved with his mother to Lisbon and then Coimbra. Influenced by surrealist thought, ancient Greek poetry, and Japanese haiku, Andrade wrote spare, concrete, lyric poems celebrating the body and the natural world with elemental precision.
     
    “[I]n Eugénio’s poetry, more than any other I can think of, the sound is the sense,” noted translator Alexis Levitin in his introduction to Forbidden Words: The Selected Poems of Eugénio de Andrade (2003). Levitin concluded, “The heart of his genius is woven into the delicate, minutely wrought balance of sound in his words.” Levitin has brought more than ten of Andrade’s numerous collections into English, including Inhabited Heart: The Selected Poems of Eugénio de Andrade (1985), White on White (1987), and Solar Matter: Matéria Solar (1995). Andrade, whose work has...

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