The Only Thing I Know, a poem by Greg Bernhardt

The Only Thing I Know

The only thing I know is

the goats don’t know anything

outside this hundred acre plot;

whatever I carry with me:


news of my world, my town,

school board meetings, my

daughter’s or son’s grades,

her 21 rebounds in her game

or his made three point shots.


They only see what is it I carry

in my hands: buckets of grain,

bales of hay, fresh electrolyte water

for freshened doe mothers and so on…


They don’t know that even farther

beyond their visibility of this place

there are wars being fought, and countless

people looking for food of their own

and safe havens to call home.


They see only what they need

or want as they sniff about the air;

it’s not their fault though,

they cannot know about such things.


But I can, I can see beyond

the horizon of my home, my town,

this state, this country…

but… I should confess,

there are times that I take refuge


out there while putting the units

on the next sixteen milkers or

pulling apart some aged hay,

sweeping up the milking parlor,


or as my head presses against the

warm sides of that fresh doe mother

as I help her newly born kid

find her way to her mother’s teat—

I lean close against that wall of goat


and feel the weight of the world lift

or in other words, I see what they see

and what they know…

and that is my world, if only for an hour or so.