The Fleece

Image courtesy of Billy Wilson via Flickr and creative commons

I’m doing my best to ignore all the political shenanigans this week and focus on the festive season. Growing up in sheep country a high percentage of the pubs were called The Fleece and this poem honours them and the shepherds.

The Fleece

Over a few pints down the Fleece 
the story came out.
How Jim was dozing on the moor 
when the bright light shone.

They’d had to restart night watch duties
with all this rewilding nonsense –
wild boar, wolves and what have you
roaming the land
and picking off lambs
cool as you please.

There were three of them that night.
Jim, dozing as I said,
Bob and Tom playing poker dice
and sharing a brew
when this amazing voice
came loud and clear.

‘Something they’d been smoking’
was the general theory,
provoking laughter, loud and beery,
but ‘No, think on lads’ said Jim
‘they spoke of hope, of life, a bairn.

They said to go and visit him.
We did. A mucky byre, crocked tractors,
discarded tyres and, sacks of feed
and a baby in its mother’s arms.
It felt like he was all we’d need 
in this life or the next.

I was stunnered. You saw my text.
Had to tell you all just what we’d found’
They clapped him on the shoulder then,
uncomfortable with emotion,
as quietly, in the commotion,
Bob went and bought another round.

Tony Earnshaw

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