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Goats and Sheep


Two young goats,
nipping hay from a manger,
wear straw coats
on bodies of bulge and bone,
jut and crook;
at the voice of a stranger
turn to look.

Front feet placed
on the rail, they stand upright,
sniff and taste
what’s to hand, known or unknown.
In their queer
square pupils they show the light
of no fear;

while the ewe
with the same unusual eyes
holds a view
contrariwise. With blear groan
and stiff ret-
rograde step she shies, denies
you a pet.

Charming kid,
feeling up with smiling lips:
that the hid-
den id or devil are shown
in billy,
bipedal on split hoof-tips,
seems silly.

Bill and nan
follow impulse placidly,
hatch no plan
beneath their horns, and disown
no design:
shaggy caryatides
of love’s shrine.


John Gibbens, from The Promise

 

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