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.