POETRY: The Sheep Herd by Sister Mariella

The Sheep Herd by Sister Mariella

I am a shepherd—I have hated
The smell of damp sheep in the rain,
The pain
Of clouted shoes on weary feet,
The silly barking of watchdogs in the night,
The blinding light
Of summer suns on hillsides without shade.
Nor anything I did not wish was not
From hoar-frost on the meadow grass
To dizzy stars that blinked on stupidly and bright.

Last night
I went with other men who tended sheep
Over to Bethlehem to see—
We did not know just what we’d come to see
Who’d followed up a cloud of singing wings.
Until we came to where a young girl held
A little baby on her lap and smiled.

She made me think of flowers,
White flowers on long stems and blue night skies.
Nothing happened—
But today
I have been shaken with the joy
Of seeing hoar-frost wings
Atilt upon tall grasses; the sun
Upon the sheep, making their gray backs white
And silvery
Has hurt me with its beauty, and I heard
The sound of the barking watchdogs break
The tolling bells against the quiet hills.

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