The Heart of Belonging

if you’re driving along Highway 441
in north Georgia
admiring the mountain views
and happen to think that
out of the corner of your eye
you just caught a glimpse
of a goat on a roof
turn around immediately
and go back
at first glance, this is 
nothing short of alarming

you’ll want to call the fire department
to send over the ladder truck
like people do for kittens stuck in trees

but as you’re plotting a way
to not sound like a prank caller
you’ll see the sign 
GOATS ON THE ROOF
are realize that you really did see them
and they’re supposed to be up there
“but,” you’ll self-argue,
“they’re notsupposed to be there
nope, goats don’t belong on a roof,”
you’ll keep thinking

which is the whole point
you’ll get out and take in
the whole country store
stocked with jams, jellies, ice cream,
boiled peanuts, t-shirts, 
photo opportunities,
and goat souvenirs
you’ll buy a handful
of goat food and pour it
in a yellow crane bucket
and bicycle-pedal it
to the rooftop and 
dump it in a little trough 
for the hungry goats waiting
to gobble it up and
then you’ll
rub your chin and wonder,
“did they really just
smile at me for more?”

they’ll trip-trap
across their suspended rope bridge
and do their head-butting
sibling-style goat play
to entertain curious
mind-blown tourists
like those boxing hares
you watch on YouTube

yep, the roof goats know this business
my brother Ken and I
earned our official
goat ranger shirt stickers
by feeding the
rooftop ruminants
and eating their ice cream
one recent summer
who says goats don’t belong on a roof?
who says it’s too late for
middle-aged adults to re-live
their youth and earn
official goat ranger stickers
they missed back in the 1970s,
like a skipped-over scout badge?
belonging is rooted in the heart
of the roof dwellers

if ice-cream-cone-licking
out-of-place tourists
lured to pedal food
in a yellow crane
to rooftop goats
belong
in memory-making roadside
attractions on a mountain 
highway

then
why don’t goats
belong
on a roof?

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