Friday, 20 July 2018

Those Who Give Birth to Goats

by Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach

Only one out of ten people born in a year of the Goat finds happiness (十羊九不全) ~ Chinese folk saying

Some would drown
theirs as soon as they
were born. Luck won’t come

with age, they’d say,
and death in water
proved far easier

than milk. Some would
cut theirs out early
to change the animal

while others would stop
making love altogether
and wait for the goat

to pass. Give birth
under the horse, they urged,
in its calla lily mouth

and mane of jasmine,
in brackish yellow heat.
A goat, they said, is raised

for nothing more
than slaughter, an arid field
of withered primrose.

But his heart
is nothing
like the sound

of goat or horse hooves.
Between breathing
and drowning, he listens,

silver and quiet, balanced
on the ribs
like on the ancient frame

of an unbuilt house.  

* * * * *

"Those Who Give Birth to Goats" was previously published in Midway Journal.

Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach emigrated from Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine as a Jewish refugee when she was six years old. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon and is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, where her research focuses on contemporary American poetry about the Holocaust. Julia is the author of The Bear Who Ate the Stars (Split Lip Press, 2014) and her recent poems appear in Best New PoetsAmerican Poetry Review, and Nashville Review, among others. She is also Editor-in-Chief of Construction Magazine ( and when not busy chasing her toddler around the playgrounds of Philadelphia, she writes a blog about motherhood (

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