THE FROGMORE POETRY PRIZE 2016

Anthony Powers

THE WOMAN WHO LOVED SHEEP

She introduced them to each other one by one
over the years.
Mostly they sat together on the sofa
as if in a wonderful cuddle of wool.
Sometimes a few at a time were allowed
to sleep in the bedroom, next to her.

As another treat she’d take them for a drive.
The family grew too large to shepherd all at once
so small flocks grouped in turn on the back seat.
She didn’t realize from such a vantage point
that all they ever saw was sky.
They missed the fields.
They never knew grass.

As the years progressed, they wondered about other families
and a few grew impatient.
There must be other worlds out there.
From inside their heads there seemed a vagueness, calling.

Some settled easily into engagement,
wedding suits and dresses, and babies.
The ones who wished to fly
were taken to New Zealand to realize their dreams.
But they were happiest when together;
never more so than after she formed the sheep choir.
Harmonising was hard work.
Plainchant was more their style.

When she died, they sang at the funeral
out of love and respect;
and the wondered-about new lives came into being.

Some were joined to kin and kindred friends,
to bond with weeish girls and boys.
Some sat in shop windows for weeks
till gradually absorbed into separate families.

Along a lonely evening, from their far-flung places,
they would remember, and wish
themselves together on the family sofa
singing
with the woman who loved them.



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