Face of Sheep, Diane Whitehead

Sheep

Did you miss one? We can count faster. Or slower.

One sheep.

We’ll pause here. We’ll think about the sheep. We’ll find patterns in its wool, ruched and wiry. We’ll weave them into yarn, knit sweaters that we’ll give to our children.

Two sheep.

After the kids have worn holes in their sweaters we’ll patch them up again. We’ll put them into cupboards and drawers, won’t pull them out until there’s another child. We’ll tend to the sweaters; we’ll make sure that the moths don’t gnaw them, open the drawers regularly.

Three sheep.

The children will grow. The children will eat glue, and pull the cat’s tail, and trip over their own feet.

Four sheep.

The sweaters will smell like cinnamon and dandelions when they’re pulled out again. One will be lost in the wash, in the odd spin cycle that eats errant clothing and divorces socks. Another will be torn on the playground, when Boy pushes Girl and she tumbles on concrete: elbows and knees and elbows and knees.

Five.

The children will teach their siblings how to clean a broken vase, how to kiss their mothers; how to hold their sisters, how to hit their brothers. How to comfort their sisters when they’ve been left at the train station, how to comfort their brothers when they leave for the train station. How to leave the house; leave the sweaters and the sheep.

Six.

As the children grow, the sweaters will pill, even as we attempt to remember them.

Seven.

We need more children. More sheep.