Shei Sanchez is a writer and photographer from Jersey City, New Jersey. Her poems and prose have appeared in or are forthcoming in Sheila-Na-Gig, Autumn Sky Daily, Catchwater Magazine, Dissonance Magazine, Harness Magazine, Common Threads, Indolent Books, as well as in the anthology Essentially Athens Ohio: A Celebration of Spoken Word and Fine Art (independently published, 2019). Her photographs have been shown in Brattleboro, Vermont and Athens, Ohio. In a past life, she was a regular contributor for two lifestyle magazines in Bangkok, Thailand. She and her partner live on a farm outside Athens, Ohio with their flock of goats.
Tugging my coat sleeve
while I sit on a moss-laden log,
she initiates our anthem.
The first measure marked
by her trembling bleat.
Her plea pierces
the brisk morning air,
coaxing me to place
my stiffened palm on her nape,
my fingers sighing as they melt
into her soft, warm fur,
sanctuary from the frost
still biting my skin.
My hand moves along her spine:
adagio, dolce, a tranquil cantabile.
One that undulates with the waves
of the sunlight seeping through
the nearly naked trees,
the pianissimo whisper
of the breeze slipping
between their bent boughs.
She tilts her head to scratch her back
with her horn, a motion in sync
with the chime of the wind.
She shifts the angle
of her snout to sniff
the dirt-pocked landscape
of my winter layer, rich
with the scent of goat, hay, earth.
Behind me her fellow caprine presses
his long face against my scapula.
Enter a D major chord, two sharps
on my back as he buries a mark
of ownership and affection
over and over, until
I turn around, hand on the space
between his horns, for a rub
impromptu, a gesture fermata.
Smaller the distance between our faces,
human and animal equal in height:
he standing, I sitting.
of alfalfa, timothy, sudan grass
inches away from my morning-musk
of rice, bulgur, carrots, collard greens.
My round predator eyes
alight on his rectangular ones,
a dark glassy horizon
adapted by beasts of prey,
the geometry drawn by our seeing
organs meeting on the same plane,
connected by trust.
Do you recognize me?
my mezzo soprano asks him.
His jaw loosens as if to affirm
our camaraderie, but he puffs
his cheeks, andante,
into ovoid globes, the cud churning
with each revolution.
His half-sister returns from her browse,
sated by the smattering of found acorns
on autumn’s floor. Ready for an encore,
she tugs again, this time
goading me to place my hand on her head, too.
I comply and play the same sweet song.