“All We like Sheep” by David R. Slavitt

All We like Sheep

No sheep would ever say, or, all right, think
“The shepherd is our Lord.” They are not good
with metaphors but, stupid as they may be,
they know that the shepherd sooner or later will come
with his curved knife and the sheep always run
whenever they see him. They run from his dog too,
because it bites, but neither one of them means
any good to sheep. On the other hand goats,
forgetting their native caution, come when they’re called
and even learn to nibble out of your hand,
denying what’s real for these sentimental moments
their herdsman allows them in their foreshortened lives.
The knife waits in its sheath for them too,
so, if they’re smarter than sheep, they’re also dimmer,
not having learned Abraham’s hard lesson.
Matthew’s peculiar story about how Jesus
sorts out the sheep and goats assumes that it’s hard—
they separate themselves, the believing goats
on one side and the fearful, atheist sheep
all on the other, nervous even there,
to embarrass us, which is why there are no scape-sheep
wandering the wilderness for our sins.

About Lauren Sawyer

I am an assistant instructor at a graduate school in Seattle, Washington, and I hold a master of the arts in theology and culture. I love coffee, rainy days, and John Updike. Learn more about me at laurendeidra.com.