shepherd

(NaPoWriMo, day 26: The prompt was an ‘Almanac Questionnaire’. I didn’t try to incorporate responses to all or even most of the questions, but for some reason this is where it took me…)

Aged 9 or so, I won a prize, with a picture drawn
for a summer fair. Though they didn’t believe
I meant it – this dream of growing up to be
a shepherd. Perhaps they knew what I didn’t, the
unlikelihood of it. But nor did they know the pull of
the sheep arriving on the hill behind our house,
with a dog and a donkey. Most of all, the donkey.
Enough to pull me away from first communion
celebrations, white dress or no white dress.
Mostly, it was sounds that reached us first, this
almost-human calling from beyond the borders
of our garden, a few minutes away up the street
or down, depending. These were wandering
sheep, with a shepherd and fences that moved,
allowing grass and cowslips to grow between
visits. These days, here, sheep are everywhere,
in large fields, the borders around them marked not
by a dog but dry stone walls. No shepherds here.
What draws me now is not sheep or dogs or even
donkeys. It’s the wandering.

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