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
I was deep in my books when it broke
through the evening: a golden unspooling
of music so beautiful, I rose from my chair
like a woman in thrall. A song made of water,
Hyperion’s daughter could not have conducted
a more ineluctable spell than the swell
of that heavenly air. In the pluck of those strings
was the pattern of things. I froze and I listened,
as each ringing note spoke of truth with an ease
that rebuked industry and the complicating
of simplicity. I have no strong feelings
about life’s meaning, no spiritual leanings,
but if there’s a secret behind our existence,
surely the harp is the arca that keeps it.
The Harp by Zoe McCann was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition May 2019 judged by Terry Jones.
In the line of fire
She is the different other –
she can tell from the sidesteps
of avoidance in the street
where no one walks too close
for a chance brush to be mistaken.
She knows she is a suspect parcel
addressed and stamped
by the stare of others, hears
in herself the tone-break of fear
that sits constant in the knowing
a midnight doorbell will wake
a father to run for water
to douse once more a posted fire.
A man stands in the shadows
watching the sway of her burqa
cut slices from the street,
breathes hate for this otherness
and waits for her to open a door
to mark which house to torch that night.
In the line of fire by Greta Ross was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2019) judged by Terry Jones