Wales is whales to my daughter
who has only been there once on holiday,
very young, to see her grandparents,
a grim old man and a wrinkled woman.

They wrapped her in a shawl and hugged her
till she cried herself to sleep
suffocating in a straitjacket of warm Welsh wool.

So how do I explain the sheep?

They are everywhere, I say, on lawns, in gardens.

I once knew a man
whose every prize tulip was devoured by a sheep,
a single sheep who sneaked into the garden
the day he left the gate ajar.

They get everywhere, I say, everywhere.

Why, I remember five sheep
riding in a coal truck leering like tourists
travelling God knows where
bleating fiercely as they went by.

In Wales, I say, sheep are magic.

When you travel to London on the train,
just before you leave Wales
at Severn Tunnel Junction,
you must lean out the window and say
“Good morning, Mister Sheep!”

And if he looks up,
your every wish will be granted.

And look at that poster on the wall:
a hillside of white on green,
and every sheep as still as a stone,
and each white stone a roche moutonnée.

20 thoughts on “Wales

    • I was at a boarding school in England from age 11 to age 18: I was never allowed to forget what the English call the Welsh. What they call the Irish can be even worse. I’m a mongrel anyway, bits of England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales: so it’s all water off a duck’s back as far as I am concerned. Anyway, I am a Canadian now, not even hyphenated, and that’s all that matters.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes when you move around you are aware of the porous nature of identity and I always wondered how people can be so certain of theirs, all it would take would be one tiny dislocation and everything would be up in the air.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Sheep! Growing up in the countryside of Northeastern Pennsylvania, on 80 acres in the middle of nowhere… it used to be a farm before we lived there… as a kid it was lonely but at the same time good for my imagination! Anyway, Dad decided it would be fun to have a few animals. I had a pony, we had ducks in the ponds and a small flock of sheep. Every once in a while when mama sheep would reject one of the lambs, we’d raise it by hand. The little lambs were the most darling things! And since the inevitable result was food on the table, to this day I cannot eat lamb!

    Liked by 2 people

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