The Sheep Child
A Poem by James Dickey

	Farm boys wild to couple
	With anything    with soft-wooded trees
	With mounds of earth     mounds
	Of pinestraw    will keep themselves off
	Animals by legends of their own;
	In the hay-tunnel dark
	And dung of barns, they will
	Say    I have heard tell

	That in a museum in Atlanta
	Way back in a corner somewhere
	There's this thing that's only half
	Sheep    like a wooly baby
	Pickled in alcohol    because
	Those things can't live    his eyes
	Are open    but you can't stand to look
	I heard from somebody who...

	But this is now almost all
	Gone.    The boys have taken
	Their own true wives in the city
	The sheep are safe in the west hill
	Pasture    but we who were born there
	Still are not sure.    Are we,
	Because we remember, remembered
	In the terrible dust of museums?

	Merely with his eyes, the sheep-child may

	Be saying    saying

	     I am here, in my father's house.
	     I who am half of your world, came deeply
	     To my mother in the long grass

Published May 10, 1997
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