The End of Summer

by Lynn McLure

Insistent baas
sheep pressed against the fence
the air a mix of sweet decay
manure and a strange springlike
fragrance of newly turned earth
breathing in sadness

I push open the feed room door
open bins and scoop up grain
to feed the living
the young injured llama tenderly nursed
these last ten weeks is buried
his grave a raw scar

on the weedy hill below the barnyard
the kind young man with a backhoe
came late in the afternoon to dig
he said “go in the house, I’ll take care of him”
he said he’d buried a bottle calf last spring
died in his arms… his old horse just last week
job done dirt smoothed alone

in the September evening I return
to the slow sad dance of tending
I feed muck out spread fresh straw
sheep underfoot surviving llama watching
no need to dress a wound
mix special grain…
I avoid the empty stall
the unavoidable absence.

Lynn McLure was born in Louisiana and has lived in many parts of the country. She now lives on a farm in Yancey County where she raises sheep and llamas, teaches meditation, weaves and spins, and writes poetry. A graduate of Vassar College, she has published poems in Pinesongs, Western North Carolina Woman, and Frogpond.

About The End of Summer — I lost a beloved and beautiful young llama, Christopher Robin, to injury and complications in September. The poem is part of my goodbye to him.