Barbara Blacksheep bears a name
Belonging to a shepherdess,
A damsel in a dirndl dress.
But Barbara won’t play this game –
Whyever did her parents think
Her life should be a nod and wink ?
Barbara Blacksheep, twelve years old,
Is fighting hard against the path
Her name intends to telegraph.
Defiance, though, makes Barbara bold –
She won’t be traipsing downs and dales
From soggy Kent to chilly Wales !
For she’s a city girl at heart –
The only sheep she ever saw
Was supermarket mutton, raw.
She’d struggle how to play the part –
She couldn’t be a wannabo-Peep
For anyone, not even sheep.
She doubts all that nostalgia, though –
They weren’t romantic spirits, free,
But serfs a meal from poverty.
Yet things have changed since long ago –
The modern herders of the moors
Use phones and drones and four-by-fours.
But then she sees a painting in a book –
A shepherdess amongst the gorse
Just leaning on her crook –
Rather chocolate box, of course,
With unshod feet and peasant’s dress
But in her eyes a knowing look
That said here was a shepherdess
That knew her pasture’s ev’ry nook
And knew her ev’ry sheep by sight
And knew she’d get them home all right.
She was maybe fifteen, sixteen,
Not much older than Barbara now –
The latter who would struggle between
Telling a sheep from a cow
Yet somehow, if she’d only end her war
Upon her name,
Then give her three years, give her four,
To give herself an aim –
And could she be that confident of gaze
To watch them graze ?
And so she got to thinking deep
About her future, taking stock –
And made a choice to guard the flock.
So Barbara Blacksheep will never lack sleep
Counting ev’ry one of her charges
As each bleats and bustles and barges.
She made herself a solemn vow
To shield her yearlings from disasters
As playing fields become her pastures –
For she’s a playground monitor now –
Her lambs aren’t sheep and kids aren’t goats,
But tykes in woollen hats and coats.