One lambing season, a ewe became very ill with pregnancy toxemia—almost dying just days before she gave birth. Fortunately we were able to save her. Several days later, she gave birth to a lamb that was alive—but just barely. I struggled so desperately during the early hours of his life to keep alive. He did remain living—but not very enthusiastically. So every day became a challenge to keep him alive. Then one summer day, he seemed to eat his grain a little more eagerly…maybe he even had a little bounce in his step. I really felt that he had championed over his challenges—so I named him Wimbledon…
Then one morning—not long after his naming—I found that he had died during the night. I buried Wimbledon in a lovely little thicket…and every time I walked past that thicket, I would remember Wimbledon...
Ah yes, Wimbledon…
what about Wimbledon?…..
If not for you, his mother would have died,
him conceived yet still unborn.
And when he was, he wouldn’t walk;
refused to even stand or suck
until you warmed him by the furnace
and put a rubber nipple in his mouth.
And even then, mother got mastitis:
her udder abandoned for a bottle of reconstituted milk…
and so soon hay and grass…
but unswallowed, neither one could nourish
as disjointed jaws failed to grind,
forming only a foul smelling plug
which drooled from his lips
and muffled his cry.
Oh my strange lamb,
how the good shepherd fell
before your will to die.
How goodness fell…
then even disgust and disdain:
they fell and they fell
til only fear of you remained.
Fear: overfeeding you milk.
Fear: force-feeding you grain.
This fear spawns scours,
this fear feasts like the maggots upon your dung-matted flesh….
Yet this fear has always been my boon-companion…
For the waters of birth brought forth twin desires:
brothers in blood, brothers in being –
yet their bodies would not be suckled equally.
This fear then, like a rescuing wing,
swept the frail one forward into lush pastures of possibility,
fenced with forgetfulness
and dismembered from the desire for death.
But you Wimbledon…Oh, my Wimbledon!…
you were my remembering!…
your stiff-legged stagger each morning stumbling
against the back of my boot,
into my bones…bones to whom I now belong:
bones swelling with marrow, marrow with movement:
bones dancing unbidden upon bones,
bearing kinship with all bones and all no longer bones.
Bones which speak and sing songs unknown
in voices beautiful and ancient…
and in some wild smoldering way…
my own…and yet…yours too…
and the young of the iridescent green flies
who swarmed the mouth and anus of your bloated body…
and those of the raven,
warmed by your wool and fed by your flesh…
and even the thistle…even the thistle…
nestled within that thicket of hawthorn, balsam and wild rose: All.
All now sings with quiet remembrance to you.