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Donna Emerson

The Sheep Return


Abilio is back with his busy goats and sheep.

He grazes them in different pastures, twice as many

this year on hills around our homes.

He allows still-green grasses for the ewes and lambs,

the coarser brown for goats.


He saunters out early mornings.

His sheepdog runs and stops on command,

insisting that the hundreds of sheep run fast,

even on top of each other, to get to the next pasture.

How vigorous their chewing, as they land in

fresh oats and greener clumps of May grass.


Male goats, all different sizes

jump up, butt antlers, like cymbals,

bodies high into the air.


A llama stands among the others, as if ready

for his portrait in grass browner

this year. He resembles Beethoven’s

silhouette, his tall hat.


The night air is full of animal sounds,

mornings flush with excited animals

running up and down the hills.


This year our shepherd brings chickens and eggs,

sells them to hikers and curious neighbors

who walk by in early mornings to get closer.


Within a week we are safer from fire,

full of all-day animal melodies,

sheep packed onto trucks for their next meal,


another farm, another edge

of a small town in dry California.

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