A Tale of Five Ewes
The first sheep was penned in stocks,
Her head sticking through a hole,
Hindquarters exposed to the
Onslaught of the desperate lamb.
She kicked, lashed out
At being asked to mother another’s.
The lamb was hungry; she was angry
At the universe for confining her so.
The second ewe was dejected,
In pain at losing hers and getting infected.
She huddled back, the orphan was rejected:
She wasn’t in the mood to mother any others.
The third ewe was being presented
With a lamb in lamb’s clothing,
The skinned fleece smelling of another,
To try and trick a new mother.
Twins nestled yin and yang in a bucket,
Their Mum had had them premature.
But her milk didn’t come in. Stunned, she
Shuffled off and left them cold.
The farmer’s grandson, all of six,
Scooped them up, to put under a lamp,
To warm. That’s what happened to our twins
Looking wide-eyed at them now.
Mothering is like that. Half your
Offspring’s blood is not your own,
Your baby an alien mouth that sucks
And screams and there’s no space for you.
You can sidle to the other side of the room
In post-partum pain, feel trapped.
It takes time to bond, to grow
Into the sheepskin of motherhood.
A Tale of Five Ewes by Lizzie Smith was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2019) judged by Terry Jones