SEQUENCE IN WHICH SHEEP GRAZE ON WINTER PASTURE
1 First Freeze
No less reluctant than us, the sun
Comes up slowly and so cold
It takes an hour for steam
To begin rising from iced wool.
These exiles have only begun
A long journey out of silence. Word-shy,
They recall instead what solid rock told them
At ten thousand feet in the Andes.
All insouciant lambs wear white
Of course: Muck won’t stick to them.
Sullied and haggard, ewes
Dress in the grunge of long-suffering.
4 Easy Pickings
Unsullied white egrets, though elegant
Among squalid, mud-smudged sheep,
Have no pride at all, none,
Content to pick insects from scat.
Sheep gaze into the distance at nothing,
Chewing with empty mouths, mindless.
Or is it just that they see through
And far beyond things that obsess us?
Others ignore the bloated ewe
That died giving birth. They’re too busy
Grazing nonstop to make milk
For gamboling lambs that notice nothing.
Sheep must feel safe in the fog, camouflaged
By the dirty gray they have in common
And not making human associations
With gloom, ennui, and scattered ashes.
About the Author
Don Thompson has been writing about the San Joaquin Valley for over fifty years, including a dozen or so books and chapbooks. For more info and links to publishers, visit his website at www.don-e-thompson.com.