{In celebration of National Poetry Month, I’ll be posting a poem each weekday through the rest of April, and I invite you to join me!  Leave a link to your poem of the day in the comments section below.}

Sheep no longer wake us at night

with the possibility of birth or death

This spring it is birdsong that trills the alarm,

pronouncing dawn and sun and the possibility

of thaw, of swelling rivers and tunneling worms.

Tools have taken over the sheep barn

where lambs once fell into the world

sticky and red, fumbling on knobby knees to the udder.

I can almost smell them, lanolin thick fleece flecked with hay,

though it’s a been a year, and tractor fuel faintly wafts through the air

Not all life is born in spring, but we don’t say this

We push away the memory of a night we slept too long,

when labor stalled and horn buds caught at the opening–

no one tells us that birth is full of suffering, but shepherds

learn from a ewe’s wailing song of loss.

New life heals lost life; that ewe gave birth the following spring

to a healthy set of twins, but I hung up my shepherd’s cane, and

call myself a gardener now,

enamored still with birth: the softening seed shell,

the unfurling sprout, the push through soil and stretch toward sun.

Struggle hasn’t left, but look how spring emboldens us into birth:

green buds explode across hillsides, water swells in valleys,

the gathering light holds us

through the suffering of transformation

as we are born into a new season.

Deva with Acorn, our first lamb
Deva with Acorn, our first lamb