Psalm of the Goatherd

M. Kienholz

Out of God’s earth springs the sustainer of life—
Water as cool as the shadow of white clouds
Or the Jordan in the shelter of its banks.
Jostling and bleating my nine goats slake their thirst.
The lightning of a salamander strikes the damp stone.
His tail, like a slender root, pierces the crevice of a rock.
Nearby, reed pens of palm trees,
Dipped in hidden wells of ink, write “Survive!”
On a tablet of sand.
Their message is read by the faraway traveler.
Here at the shrine of an oasis
We are quenched, where our offering is ten thank-yous—
And the water lilies in the wetlands
Tithe with only the green coins of their leaves.