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Sheep are part of the complex.

Student 24's picture

A lot was going through my head on Friday as we went on our walk. Transitions between seasons have always made me emotional. I get utterly homesick and nostalgic, not towards any one home or time in particular; I get homesick and nostalgic for all the places and times in which I've been homesick and nostalgic during seasonal transitions. Change means something is ending, and the next thing is coming, and I dislike endings. Seasons, though - they seem to be telling me that I haven't changed at all and that everything's still okay because I'm still reacting emotionally to the seasons.

And Friday, I felt Spring.

I also felt Nairobi. This naturally luscious and socially wealthy setting with huge, old trees, rich hedges, and walking on asphalt roads with no sidewalks - this was like Muthaiga, an old and wealthy neighbourhood in Nairobi, where I lived for about two years. Of course it wasn’t identical, but I sensed a similar climate.

When we got to Harriton House, I walked around, looked at the house, at the sheep, the horse, the chickens, and then spent a while watching two adolescent-sized cows. Of course, I know nothing about the maturing process of cows, so I don’t know in which stage of life they were, but they seemed like they still had room to grow. I watched them and thought.

Then I sat on the grass with my little notebook and scribbled thoughts. I lay down and scribbled some more. I wrote some flashy phrases and images, but nothing was hitting me in the throat.

I started soft with things like these:

chopped limbs and trees scattered and scarred with wooden planks

smile with a cow’s mouth and chew without grace because you’re hungry for this earth 

tools and hammers and nails and sore muscles, I hear those voices

hammer to hammer

I sit on someone’s family house land and who am I?

Then, in the midst of all the buzzing of machinery, I heard yelp. And immediately my mind jumped to Robert Frost’s poem, “Out, out—”, in which a young boy’s hand is cut off by a buzz-saw when his sister comes outside to announce it’s time for supper. As an older and debilitatingly maternal sister, this poem punches me hard in the gut and in the throat, and I panic. Hearing that yelp and where my mind took me - the day was suddenly less sunny.

I wrote:

and the sky is a heavy and painful blue-blooded sheep skin

[tickle the stars on the other side of the skin]

maybe we have feathers under our skin like the trees under the sky who try to penetrate and to breathe starlight but they don’t know there’s no oxygen up there and that’s why they won’t grow and that’s why our wings won’t grow so we build with hammers, heavy, penetrating wings, but these wings have jaws and a long, pipeline throat which thirsts for the black [stuff] that brews in the Earth’s stomach

there’s something about peace

tree shredder

I’ve tried all weekend to build with these words. To build a poem, to build lyrics, to build rhythm and melody and structure… It’s not usually so difficult. But it has been. I think these words don’t want to be built with, just like - perhaps - the trees don’t want to be built with. Perhaps. We make it complex.