When I see a sheep just-shorn, looking so experimental
and embarrassed, I imagine that the First Sheep must have looked
like this, emerging from the modelling mind of the Creator.
And I see God gazing upon the sheep with a smile of merriment,
and saying tentatively to the Other Persons, What do you think?
And the Persons saying: “Umm... you were aiming for...?”
God: “A deer.” Persons: “A what?” God: “Watch me.”
And then, I see the Maker deftly recalibrating the original design
in its colour, leg-line, neck-length, face-shape, eye-width and tail-plan.
Glorious Eye-brows then lift in silent question. The Persons answer:
“Yes,” reverently. They fold their arms, nod and smile
into each other’s eyes.
Then, I see God returning to the First Sheep (she looks upset).
Everlasting Arms enwrap her, and when the Embracing One steps
back the Sheep is shod in the cushiony coat we know. Again,
Immortal Eyebrows rise. Persons: “Better! Imposing!
Large woolly cylinder with legs! Still a tad funny – but useful!”
And, now, before my imagination stands the First Sheep.
I also see the deer delicately drinking from a near-by stream.
I see that the Sheep is deeply jealous of the deer’s gamin beauty
(what was that smirking presence sliding through the grass?).
I see the scowling Sheep turn toward the deer. So abrupt, so big
a baa bursts out that (much to the Sheep’s gratification), the deer
rears and runs, her trim tail raised to show the pure white under-fur.
Again, Ever-loving Eyebrows lift in question. The Persons say,
“Mmm.... One more thing. Watch us.” Two now join hands, dance,
circling slowly; and in a trice, a lamb wobbles out, knock-kneed
unblemished and pure. The sheep trots over, sniffs it, and deeply baas,
“Heaven.” Merciful and Comforting Eyebrows lift...?
“Good,” said God.
Johanna Caton, O.S.B., is a Benedictine nun. She was born in the United States and lived there until adulthood, when her monastic vocation took her to England, where she now resides. Her poems have appeared in The Christian Century, The Windhover, The Ekphrastic Review, Green Hills Literary Lantern, The Catholic Poetry Room, and other venues, both online and print.