flat on the grass, and consider the grazing sheep.
Sun is familiar on them; I know, without seeing,
their liquid hazel eyes, their split wet horny
hooves, and the separate hairs
on their long paler faces.
They are heavy with wool,
dun-coloured, shadowed like the tussocky slopes
they are slowly drifting over.
A young ewe wanders almost within my reach
and the small tearing sound of her teeth in the grass
shuts out all other.
The world is too cold for a man alone;
day-old, he reaches for another skin
against his mother’s breast, and all life long
with luck, and variously, thickens the coat
he craves against the weather.
Saints are clothed with love
and need none else, but poorer men turn in
to brain or stomach, changeable heart and eye
blunting the antennae reaching out beyond.
I do not know what blood is in my veins,
what talisman I need against the night.
— The sun’s still high, and I am far from sleep
but, as a better man might tell his beads,
I count my sheep.