The sheep has its reed out.

Dad says to press the hot mass of pink flesh back inside.
My fingers squelch against the steaming conical,
force each fold of rigid flesh into the sheep’s darkness.
Dizzy from bending down for so long,
I wonder when I will get to wash my hands or
if lunch will be eaten with the worry of e-coli.

Dad sews a truss to her back end:
both farmer and vet
yet still she complains –
bleats and swings herself
as though we’ve inconvenienced her,

this cold April morning

where the white balance is off and sheep hide in bushes,
birth lambs with crowns of gorse,
and all sound leaves the world save for the bleats and cackles.

This is the real beauty of spring,
though lambs frolic and crows bide their time,
the sheep rule here, cast across the field;
a clan of wool, crowned with prolapses
that it is our penance to fix.

© Charles Heathcote (longlisted for the RSPB Rialto Nature Competition)


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