Like grey fur boulders rabbits huddle down,
Ears pressed back like sleeves,
Raiding the grassy larder of the fields.

The car goes cobbling over
Ruts and pots of pasture,
Stops and fixes the ewe
In its twinned spotlight.

Under the cold stars,
Stuck between push and pant,
She’s hard by the dyke,
Womb filled with lamb
Jammed in the breech position.

This is not an occasion
For caution, for gentle introduction,
For ‘How do you dos’;
A flying tackle topples her off
Her four black matronly pegs,
A capsized table, wearing a face of fleece.

Her master thrusts his hand into the bloody darkness
Closing around his arm like a mouth.
His sinews tauten.
One pull jerks out a slimey, slithery flop,
All dangly legs and head
Swung like a pendulum over the racing ground.

He cleans its mouth of muck,
Lays it down,
Kneads its sides like bellows.

The baa when it comes is beautiful;
Thin and reedy, ancient and new.

Here is craft at work,
Satisfactory as sliding glass into wooden grooves
Properly fitted, every corner plumb;
Like setting a ship in motion down a slipway.

-Sheena Blackhall