‘Against Despair: The Kid Goat’ by Nickole Brown

— Reneé Bibby

I’ll admit it. I’m not ashamed that Nickole Brown’s poem made me cry. Her poem is about the death of a kid goat, about love, care, and rightness, and it absolutely wrung me out. Reading it is the greatest sort of hurt—when you are scraped hollow by the fierceness of the imagery:

Little sips—

little hooks-little burrows-this was how,

little by little, that little goat finally

collapsed, arched his throat back
as if to be slit, jerked his legs up into the
nothing like the fetus he was
just two months before.

The horror of it presented without any overt editorializing. Human-induced, shit luck, or the gruesome order of the natural world—no matter what induced the goat’s worm infection, his life calls for care. Care from you, the reader asked to assume the position within the narrative, because his life isn’t pointless, even if his end is inevitable and brutal. The love and tender care of him is redemption. It’s giving without any aim of a utilitarian outcome. It’s the love that saves us from despair.