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BELLING THE FLOCK / Wendy Wieber One The old ewe, Elizabeth, glares through horizontal pupils of survival, irises ocherous and tough as rangeland. At the sharp peaks of her hips dirty wool parts to show cream, and beneath, caves, where each year twins quicken and kindle. Elizabeth batters dogs. She stamps one foot lowers her head with a bass baa, releases her manure in a shower of black pips, and charges the collie, who gives way eyebrows arched slunkly-tailed. Old Elizabeth's bell has the resonance of creatures planted and adamant atop this cragged world. Two Dominique, black of fleece, was born by luck's pivot and pulse. Last spring, big and blunt of head, she was wedged in her mother, her nose pushed at the opening but her feet lay behind like a prayer which we unfolded and pulled till gelatin peeled from the split in her hooves till her knees and shoulders popped at moist joints and she crowned. She sloshed out 68 · The Missouri Review in the slime of her birth, to blate, her black tongue thick and feeble, to stand up off the loose knock of her knees, to shine like nightwatch braced with stars. Dominique carries the high bell; articulation of the wonderwork of safe crossings outspanning the dark. Three Buttercup, a bottle-fed orphan, sleek nose, wool parted neatly down the bridge, has black stockings to her knees, is always leaping for memory's suck of that single hand-held teat. When the flock turns from the spurring yip of the dog, Buttercup trots beside him. And when the collie halts his weave to face the flock, to paralyze each sheep senseless with his bold eye, Buttercup nuzzles him, confuses his attention, adores him. Buttercup bears the third bell. It sounds pure alone but in chime with the others alters them with light dissonant inflection suspends pulse and changes those who hear the mind's tuning shift the heart's reach. The Flock Belled sheep climb a narrow path through the fog and the fold of the last visible hill. The unbelled ones float among those Wendy Wieber THE MISSOURI REVIEW · 69 who, alone in the air, bear hollowness of being and strike it to music and tongue. 70 ¦ The Missouri Review Wendy Wieber ...


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