• Sam Baker

W. S. Merwin

Sheep Passing

Mayflies hover through the long evening

of their light and in the winding lane

the stream of sheep runs among the shadows calling

the old throats gargling again uphill

along known places once more and from the bells

borne by their predecessors the notes

dull as wood clonk to the flutter of all

the small hooves over the worn stone

with the voices of the lambs rising through them

over and over telling and asking

their only question into the day they have

none will know midsummer the walls of the lane

are older than anyone can understand

and the lane must have been a path a long time

before the first stones were raised from the river

up through the trees for an age before that

one hoof one paw one foot before another

the way they went is all that is still there.