Archive for October, 2014
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
I want you to build a goat house.
I look at him, study his face. Is he joking?
I ask him to repeat it, surely I’ve misunderstood.
I want you to build a goat house.
That’s my job for the day.
Not collecting eggs from the wild chickens. Not walking the ʻauwai, clearing rocks and leaves.
A goat house.
But I don’t know how.
Use the materials from the old pig pen and he gestures down the hill
The pen is empty, no more pigs to feed.
I. don’t. know. how.
You’ll figure it out and he turns and walks away, already focused on his own work for the day.
I walk down the hill to study the pen.
I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know any New Yorker that’s ever built a goat house.
I don’t know anyone that’s ever built a goat house.
But there are supplies to be found in the abandoned pig pen
And the goats need a house.
In the shade of the banana trees
I pull at the old fence posts and they refuse to budge. This is not going to be easy.
With a shovel, I dig a pit around them until they come loose, dirt falling off in clumps.
With heavy shears, I cut away the rusty old fence wire, undoing the knots where I can.
Worms crawl everywhere, mosquitoes buzz around my face.
I don’t know how to do this.
It doesn’t matter. He told me to do it. It needs to be done.
The afternoon sun burns my face and sweat runs down the sides of my body
as I carry the lumber, the wire fence pieces
to the flat ground beside the green taro patches.
I can feel him looking at me,
watching but saying nothing.
When I look up, he looks away. Back to work.
How do you build a goat house? What kind of house do goats need?
Nothing fancy. No double-pane windows. No shingled roof. No white picket fences.
Something to keep them from running away.
Something to give them shelter.
I dig new holes for the fence posts and sink the wood deep.
I restring the wire fence walls, tight, no slack.
I cut my hand even though I’m wearing gloves. It bleeds red and strong.
I walk back to the house to wash and bandage
Maybe it’s a sign, maybe I should stop for the day.
But the goats need a house. Back to work.
He is waiting for me at the enclosure. He’s looked at what I’ve created and only says
It needs a roof and points to sheets of corrugated steel
This time we work together, without words
We work as a team
fastening the metal to the structure, weighing it down with heavy rocks.
We bring in a trough for their food and buckets for the water
And lead the goats to their new home
He closes the last piece of fence and ties a wire lock.
We bring a housewarming gift: armfuls of fresh tī leaves for them to munch
and fill their buckets with cool water
And they chomp and splash
He steps back and looks at it.
You did it.
You didn’t know how.
You figured it out
And now you do.
I wonder if anyone will need a goat house
back in New York.
© 2014 Jason Poole, all rights reserved
Friday, October 10, 2014
“We made a deal with the mosquitoes,” Pops will often tell visitors to Hālawa Valley. ”They promised to leave us alone and we promised to bring them new blood.” It usually makes everyone laugh and it makes the mosquitoes in the valley less of a threat, less of an inconvenience. For the moment, anyway.
In the valley, I carry a long tī leaf with me and use it like a horse uses its tail, swatting at the pesky bugs that bite and sting my arms and legs and cause me to itch. A leaf that starts out whole and ends us looking shredded and tired by the end of my walk.
I woke up this morning with an itch. A nagging insistence. A sensation that cries out SCRATCH ME.
I’m working on a huge writing project. A project that I’ve lovingly referred to as Project Natalie here on the blog. It’s been a lot of fun. And a lot of work.
About this itch… it’s the kind that’s hard to pinpoint. Oh, how I wish it was like a mosquito bite that swelled up and left a red mark! It would be easy to locate. Easy to scratch.
But this itch is one that’s inside. Deep inside. It’s like an itch in my brain.
Thomas the Cat is an itchy little guy. He’s a redhead, a ginger, and I’m told that redheaded cats are prone to skin conditions. He’s a master when it comes to scratching. He works furiously at first, clawing at skin with a vengeance. Then he sits, leg still poised with claws at the ready, waiting to see if he’s been successful. To see if he’s managed to scratch the itch.
I guess I’m kind of like him. I scratch at the page with my pen, looking for the right stories to share, the perfect way to express what it is I’m trying to say. And then I sit and wait. Have I found it? Have I managed to quiet the voice that cries out, Scratch the itch! Tell the story!
I don’t know. I’m still scratching. Still searching. Still waiting.
Alice found a bottle that said DRINK ME, and she drank. She found a cake that said EAT ME, and she ate.
I have a story that says WRITE ME.
And I’m still writing.
An itch that begs to be scratched.