Monday, April 6, 2009

Long Live the Sheep-dog

My grandfather possessed
places with great names,
the big house
overlooking the railyards,
Rocky Peak,
a view of nearly
all of Banks Peninsula,
Western Valley,
a quiet creek,
dragonflies & native bees

He seemed to spend his time
shifting sheep between the three

Any excuse to practice the dogs
for those heroic winter days
when he would stride out to
the circle & with whistle, shout
& stick, control all brute creation.

This is a poem I’m particularly pleased to have written. My grandfather lived for his dog trials. My stepfather was also a keen triallist. I helped raise their pups. Watching a half-grown pup eyeing and rounding up the chooks is an early memory.

My country upbringing showed this morning when I read that animal rights activists were campaigning to remove sheep-dogs from the farm. High country mustering would be impossible. Centuries of interdependence would be lost. My hackles rose.
Long live the sheep dog.

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