Within the picture frame of a tea-caddy valley
an airborne lottery wheedled its way to the nostrils
of the sheep, selected the club night in the cow sheds
promising cuts of cut-rate sweet-meat.
Animals grazed as clan for millennia, hailed
by their thousands, into the news reels and word processors
of the Dictaphone media: no Nazi propaganda, no furnace in the street
the four-legs had reached their zenith and were a jewel in the peaks.
A party was thrown, from the depths of our hearts
onto the celebrating heap, warm animal bodies pirouetting together
in the bedlam of kaylee dancing cattle, heralded humans
in droves to douse the god-like livestock in champagne and altar fire.
Indeed fireworks: multi-shot aerial displays formed night into day,
Roman Candles set the bleating from black sheep shooting at the youngest jumpers
the gunpowder smell of acrid pleasure, Catherine Wheels likely to
fix landscapes across the nation with a micronova of prescribed carnival burn.
In their new-found importance, ablaze with screaming laughter,
aware that carnival antics are in ewes, rams, goats and bovine inborn.
Anything with cloven hoof apple-bobbed, splatted-the-rat and given a prize.
A shout-out over the tannoy, a double-barrelled loud-hailer, a lit sparkler.
Every moment a de facto Shangri La, each species a nomadic caravan,
all congregations a vigil. Sung out in all crevices The King of Love my Shepherd Is.
Epicentres of the crescendo were identified in
Essex, Northumberland, Cumbria and the North York Moors.
Weeks tore by – the breeds cross-pollinated – until all fetes, galas, events ceased.
Fires were extinguished; food was off, entertainment encored.
The perpetual motion machines, all animal bodies were on top
of one another, on their backs, ashen, asleep.
The lottery was spent.
It was later found that rather than announce Lent early
(commend the critters to respite, quadrupedal Butlins and organised fun)
Tiring them out throwing a party now
would cost the fleecy pockets of the markets less in the long run.
The carnivals abated. the skies no longer alight. All bleating eulogy silence.
For months after – aside dry stone walls before entering
the hallowed grounds of the sacred feasts
our sign of respect was marked by a blessing:
to wash our hands with buckets of water and disinfect our feet.
I remember 2001 quite well. Almost didn’t make it today. Also, to do right by ancestors ‘kaylee’ should be written Céilidh. Good night.