Long Mynd Sheep

At the scrag end of the world,
It seems, this blasted heath
That falls to a dried riverbed.

Where water once flowed,
Now there are slabs of slate
And the skulls of sheep:

A reminder of the thin line
Between life and death; the slip
Of a once sure foot.

What bleached these old bones?
The living sheep are unimpressed
By death. They live with it.

They graze instead among the bracken
And heather bitten to the quick.

Lean and hardy, we call them stupid
As they skitter away.

The red brand on each flank
Looks like a patch of dried blood.

Helen Kitson