The podiatrist operates on your big toe
Actually removing the nail with what looks like
A pliers and then cauterizing the oozing bed
With caustic oil. He says in a week or so
You should be able to walk without
Agony. He tells you walking
Is essential to health. His parents were
Holocaust survivors. The day they walked
Out of the abandoned barracks.
Living skeletons, their feet
Wrapped in rags, what a day that was!
How they walked to the D.P. camps, walked
On ship decks, walked to the immense fortune
Of a son who learned at the university
To fix feet like yours. So walk!
THE YEAR OF THE SHEEP (OR THE GOAT)
It was decided that separating the goats from the sheep
Would be provident, as sheep are considered
Sweet and cuddly and obedient,
Pleasant to count as one courts sleep.
Sheep leaping from cloud to cloud.
A goat is bad-smelling
And malevolent. Like Pan or Satan.
It escapes. Climbs trees. Anoints itself
With urine. Violates the virgins.
Goat or sheep: the year is unlucky.
Evil omens abide: accidents, tornadoes, typhoons.
Feng Shui master Clement Chan foresees
Fires and crashes.
Last year at Shanghai Hospital women induced birth
To beat the calendar and produce a child
Born in the year of the Lucky Horse.
Sheep are unfortunate; they get fleeced.
Goats are laden with sin and driven
Out of the village into the storm.
The future looks bleak or woolly.
The cloven-hooved ones speak
Of trouble with love or money.
The portents gather in flocks
Of the stupid and the uncanny.
Every morning the owl-like query
The trees long-division finds them
Wanting. A negative number. A
Fraction of hurt. Grey as Quakers
On a quest for illumination to the lawns
Of those just waking. We are troubled
By their petition. How they ask, but
Never answer. We don’t know either,
This equation that suspends
Logic. It’s querulous, patient
As a monk at the prie dieu
Waiting to be blessed with understanding
That morning means mourning
Somewhere for someone.