What Can You See When It’s Gone

This morning, I set about to write a blog on the writing of poems inspired by growing up on the farm and instead I ended up writing a poem. In the poem, there is a reference to a wild sheep roaming the forests outside of Melbourne Australia.  That detail is based upon a story in the papers concerning a wild ram gone wool blind with a 77-pound fleece captured and shorn and thereby rescued from almost certain death.  This sheep is a metaphor for memory, the burden and the blessing, the blindness and the sight.

 

What Can You See When It’s Gone

when you look to the top of the hill

where the barns

used to be on the farm

those black buildings

loom in the mind

dark memory

that billows

where phantom storm stains an old sky

like the oil you can’t wash

from blue cloth

 

and the ghost fog of sheep

are grazing gone grass

and eating the windfalls away

where the tree lost its apples

in autumn

one thought at a time

 

if the mist in the meadow

is cold in the winter

as frost that clings to wet wool

and warm

in the vanishing dawn

was it there

like a voice from the grave

both the wind in the weather

that worries the rain

in the name on a stone

and the name it is wearing away …

 

near Melbourne Australia

in the forests of night

they found a wild ram

gone blind in his burden of wool

his fleece curling over his face full as thunder

 

and oh when you’re lost

and oh, when you’re found

can you see

where you were

when where you once were isn’t there

 

John B. Lee

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