Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 3
Spring 2011

[Five Poems]

Susan Hartung

Little Goat

Last night, driving home from rehearsal,
tender from singing Bach, Bleib Bei Uns,
“Stay with Us, for the Evening is Coming
and the Day Draws to an End,”
turning into Oak Street, I saw in the road
a very young goat.

I slowed to a stop, and flashed my brights 
to the driver of an oncoming car. 
She stopped. Then there were three of us
unsure of what to do.
The goat started to bleat.
The driver remembered that someone south
on Van Deusenville Road
had sometimes kept goats
and left to talk with him.

I turned off the car and got out,
but the goat disappeared into the bushes 
and probably followed their darkness up the hill.
I called to her,
Hey, little goat, I said. Come here.
Come here, we’ll find your home.
After a few minutes, I drove to mine.

Winter is Coming.
From my bed I hear squirrels in the attic.
I cannot welcome them.


Appreciation, After Illness

I wake up glad as never before,
glad for the weight of my body
resting on a mattress,
for the remembering of dreams.
Glad for breath,
for the floor under the bed,
for darkness giving way to light,
every day.
Glad for time to notice.

—Previously published in A Memory of Hunger



We call to each other from our bedrooms,
she’s come home for a few days.
“Good night.”  “Good night.”
She’s tucked in with the Times.
Drowsy under down and darkness, I’ve closed my eyes,
covered my mouth with the sheet, prelude to sleep.

“Which state do you think produces the most yams?”
comes her challenge.
I murmur “Maine” and roll to my side, away from the door.
“Close! Try again.”
She’s warming to this.
“New Hampshire,” I answer, thinking mountain huts
and quiet blankets of snow.
“Not geography close. Alphabet close.”
Massachusetts can be only half right.
“North Carolina,” offers the waking mother in me,
thinking Southern meals.
And I think the game is over.

“And, because of weather, there are—guess—
what percentage fewer, or more, yams
this year than last?” I’m waking. 
Facts and pleasure are passing through the walls now.
I can answer this lying down.
“Fewer! By thirty per cent!”

This woman my daughter still pushes 
aside the nights for me,
and when she asks,
“By what percent has that changed the price of yams
and if not thirty, why not?”
I rise to my elbows and consider:
demand, perception of supply, timing.

—Previously published in The Berkshire Review



Are you a man or a woman?

Is the moon waxing or waning?

Are we coming or going?


Complete Obituary

found poem from The Berkshire Eagle, 11-17-08
Mildred A. Groat died Friday, Nov. 14, 2008.
She was predeceased by seven brothers
six of whom were in World War II.
Two were killed in World War II.
They were Earl, Kenneth, George, Howard,
Harold, Clifford and Raymond Bence.


“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury