The Christmas Sheep
Tonight they are killing the Christmas sheep.
The woman, shawled, frost-bitten.
shudders in the icy yard, head bowed
hating herself for wanting it so much.
The tender flesh, rich juices,
blood for puddings, bones for broth.
In her menís expert hands
the beast is helpless, its pleading shrieks
echoing the wild keening of the wind
scalping the waves on the islandís shore.
She flinches at its death cries,
hides the infants in her skirts
until at last silence washes into the barn.
Later, with calloused, bony hands
they will prepare it, mutter prayers,
thanking the good Lord for his bounty.
Tomorrow there will be no salt fish,
no potato parings dipped in buttermilk
eaten before a single smouldering sod.
Instead, rich meat, a few turnips,
a heaped turf fire and a fleeting glimpse
of heaven in their hell.
If you have any thoughts on this poem, Christine
Griffin would be
pleased to hear them.