ethel’s words

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     Blinking blinking into sunset
a long line of Churro sheep
      white against red cliffs
bleating bleating declaring community
seeming driven but no dog no goat
intrudes: they are kin, moving together
      bleating their sheepness.

     They found an old trail
at the base of the cliff.
They smell red dust of the talus
that spills onto the path.
Thirst evokes the smell of water.

     Without a pause, they pass each gulch,
each perilous ravine below their ledge.
They know that they cannot turn back.

     They hear in their ancestral memory
soft Basque voices speaking Euskara*;
later the gentle tones of Athabascan--
Navajo maidens greeting each dawn.

     Their presence on the Planet leaves
rugs and blankets: Churro wool, corded,
spun, and woven into mysterious design.

     Clamoring to be together,
the sheep close in, body to body.
Far ahead, under a slant of light,
they see a green mesa.

The imperative to move is irresistible;
the Churro sheep bleat a last song.
Where the trail ends, there is a chasm:
it is named History.
* Janet Sehara gave me the name of the language of the Basques--a language that survived in lingual isolation.

© Copyright 2012

Ethel C. Hale