DAY ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT – Josephine Dickinson

Go Not, Gentle

I loved Hope. Born in the rain of the First of April
Two Thousand Eleven, she cowered with her sturdy mother
and sister against the lichened wall, till
brought to be dry and safe in the barn.

Yet a crowd of London gawkers blundered in.
Afterwards, feeding an orphan, I heard
a cry, saw Hope too needed to be fed.

Rejected now by her mother she sickened, her eye
flared. The vets tried. But by next day
the blood was running down her face.

Gathering her up in my arms, I fed her first.
‘Enucleate’ was the word they used on the bill.
I nursed her as the sewn lids healed.

I chased her through the fields in sun and snow.
She hurled herself against me then at the milk.

She was always small – didn’t lamb with her sisters,
but she had a tup at three, then at four a ewe.

She called to me over the fields, and daily
trundled over, nuzzled my hand for food,

trailing her lamb along. Then I found her dead.
Her lamb cries still.

I named her Gentle. I have marked her wool:
when the other lambs go to be sold at market,

she will stay.


Josephine Dickinson has published four collections of poetry: Scarberry Hill (The Rialto, 2001), The Voice (Flambard, 2003), Silence Fell (Houghton Mifflin, 2007) and Night Journey (Flambard, 2008). She lives on a small hill farm in Cumbria.


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