This week’s poem in the Catholic Poetry Room is by Sheila Murray-Nellis.
Hooves click on linoleum;
wriggling tail taps the tumble
down cardboard box; traces of
milk replacer powder dust
the counter; and out comes one
green beer bottle with plastic
nipple dribbling white; the small
black wrinkled body nipping
my pant leg, his thin bleat is
nipping my heart. Why he’s here
is his mother gave birth in
a blizzard and his wet wool
iced up; we gathered him in
close to the stove. Then the ewe
forgot, snubbed him, so he’s ours.
Back in the barn, he is first
to greet us, hooves propped against
the dutch door, he bleats stronger
now, sure we’ll offer him milk.
When we let the flock into
the meadow the lamb hangs back.
Lingering with children who
pat castles in sand, he bleats
and sucks on their plump fingers.
Once named he’s no one’s dinner;
he’ll be fed hay; yearly he’ll
offer wool. “You’re a fool,” says
my neighbor. “But listen,” I
reply. The children squeal when
he leaps in the meadow, his
back legs spring sideways; naming,
then, is how we learn to see.
Naming, we learn to speak rock’s
compact denseness and the lace
when ferns flicker shade just so.
These we gather when we stand
in worship; these we offer
through the lamb to his delight
that we notice the joy formed.
Sheila Murray-Nellis is a native of Massachusetts but now lives in British Columbia, Canada. She has had poems published in St. Katherine Review, Clarion, Mslexia, and elsewhere. She received first prize in poetry twice by the Kootenay Literary Competition. Her book You Are Meant to Be Like Fire was published in 2014. She has also published children’s books.