Cumbria

It seems unfair to the sheep.
Now that the cull’s on, they haven’t a chance.
They can’t help being round, contagious, and woolly.
Ghostly herds bobble slowly down the track.

Their haunting is not sinister;  it is not by design.
We got left behind.  Something went wrong.
An atom’s half-life is the time it takes for half the mass to decay.
The half-life of a sheep is unnatural— survival of the faintest

Impression of a beast, marginalia—
Then erased.  It is meaningless,
Our existing, like a note on the leg of a pigeon left blank:
No message.  We can’t eat

But we pretend to:  that’s inertia.
Like a wind-up toy, you can’t unwind it.
The bolt in the head, the head on the pyre.
Then we wake up but we’re not alive.

You can’t take our picture.  (We don’t reflect light.)
What can’t be observed can’t be changed by the viewer.
We’re listening to the wind making shapes in the sky
Like sheep, like smoke.  Here we are, listening.

'Cumbria' from Marabou (Carcanet, 2005), ? Jane Yeh 2005, used by permission of the author and Carcanet Press.

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