The Year of the Sheep

This year I fancy myself a Swaledale sheep
scraggy and thin standing around
with an ovine stare
steadily chewing
fleeced but not knowing it yet

When I've had a belly full of wind and rain
up on the Edge I'll drive myself down for a nip
out of the coffee-coloured Tees nipping
at my own heels circling menacingly
round rocky outcrops

Just as I'm about to leap a drystone wall
there by the Low Force where a stile
crosses the Pennine Way there'll lurk
a sculptor who'll capture me
in sandstone and leave me there
midleap

Or I'll be baa baa bad
wooed away from the flock
by the comforting crook of a poet
sprayed with words I'll roam
around like a troubador spreading
verse throughout the dales

Lost I'll stray into the arms of a fibre artists
posing as a good shepherd she'll steal
my wool and dye it
and spin it into balls
and knit it into jumpers
and put the jumpers back on me

A martyr for art I'll drift
through the valleys swathed in sandstone
and jumpers and verse seeing nothing
but concepts and the wool
I have pulled over my own eyes

Shelley McAlister

Published in Rewriting the Map 2004

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