A shepherdess, hill bound in Spring,
with hundreds of birthing ewes,
with lambs mostly sliding
forth like soap through wet hands,
some lodging, legs bent back,
or breeched, legs first,
the shepheress bent to her task,
reaching, turning, tugging.
Wiping her brow, swearing softly,
carrying the orphan or abandonned
lamb to the fold; skinning a dead lamb,
draping its dripping skin on the orphan,
A happy deceit; the ewe sniffs the lamb,
the lamb bleats, the ewe does not turn away.
No wi-fi, no radio, no television out here,
just the sharp air, the sheep musk dust
along the track, the tenor and alto bleating,
the clicking of new hooves on the stones.
No-one to tell her to stay put, stay safe,
her dogs do not care for closed doors,
she is six miles from the nearest person,
another shepherdess, thankfully off-grid.
Vivien Jones lives on the north Solway shore in Scotland. She has poetry collections and short story collections in print, inclusions in national and international anthologies, and has had work broadcast on Radio Scotland and Radio 4. She leads creative writing projects geared to publications for regional arts organisations. Website here.