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.
James Tate's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (It Happens Like This by James Tate )
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(22 March 1941 -)
Robert William Service
(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958)
(28 May 1779 – 25 February 1852)
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
- Invictus, William Ernest Henley
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- To an Athlete Dying Young, Alfred Edward Housman
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- Television, Roald Dahl
Poem of the Day
- I will turn my eyes from you, Nero CaroZiv
- In Concert Tonight, Donal Mahoney
- January 1st,2015, MOHAMMAD SKATI
- In My Dreams, Kyle Schlicher
- One Needs The Other, Kyle Schlicher
- Escaping The World, silenced work
- Lonely, silenced work
- Agnostic Afloat, Donal Mahoney
- Unharmed Pinecones, Saiom Shriver
- Goodluck Jonathan, Okoemu Barnabas