BY ENID OSBORN, SANTA BARBARA POET LAUREATE 2017-2019
WRITTEN FOR THE CAW DEDICATION OF THE NEW GATE BY DAVID SHELTON, APRIL 30, 2017
I was a laughing faun, a frisky goat boy,
roving the Earth on sharp little hooves,
making music and mischief with my cohort Crow!
He was white once, you know…
Crow inched too close to Typhon’s hot mouth,
who singed his feathers black with curses!
That’s how Typhon rolls, the soulless troll!
Worse is, I got in trouble, too
by my reckless insults, my imp-iety,
perchance a small failing of propriety…
But heck, you know goats, I had to test
the loco flower, the lovely Jimson
and, within the hour, lost my censors
and then some: I turned my back
and showed Old Typhon the moon!
Oh, was he ever mad! Oh, such a wind he blew!
A tower rising up with shout and glower:
“I have had enough of you!”
He grabbed me by the scruff
and threw me high into the air!
I prayed a prayer to Jupiter
for wings like Crow! But then
I saw the Nile below,
and prayed for fins instead:
“Ye Gods, I can’t swim!” I said,
and even as I spoke, my head
became a goat, my body fish—I got my wish!
Plunging into cool water, I began to flail and falter
but—what was this—I grew a tail
and swam among a lovely school of river nymphs!
Jupiter hid me there, but Typhon
killed the fishes with vicious eddies,
seeking everywhere for the goat boy he had thrown—
now a goat fish, unbeknown to him!
(Though, according to the nymphs,
I was quite magnificent, was Capricorn!)
My exile seemed to last a long ago,
meanwhile, my good friend Crow fetched sprigs
and tender grasses from my favorite digs:
the meadow, the shady grove where I used to
pass the afternoons and play my pipes.
During my exile, Crow dropped little bites over the Nile
and practiced barrel rolls on the winds
while I slapped my flipper, clapped my fins.
He was determined to become the most adept,
because who knew when Typhon would erupt
and a crow would need to roll?
Crow, my faithful friend,
as fate would have it, now guards your gate!
After an eon or a while,
Typhon turned his eye toward a new obsession.
Good Jupiter reclaimed possession of his minion,
scooped me from the Nile and threw me into the day sky—
a wholly new dominion where I was lost to sight!
But in the night sky I can be seen,
and there, reflected in the gleaming water
where my nymphs circle, my lovely loves, my girls,
a child with wild curls, perhaps a daughter...
I swim on high in the Winter sky,
though still the earthiest sign am I,
for I was once a goat boy with four hooves!
HEARTFELT THANKS TO ENID FOR THIS POEM ON THE OCCASION OF THE DEDICATION OF THE FIRST DAVID SHELTON GATE