Spring 1998 • Vol. XX No. 2 Poetry |

Poem

POEM When the weak lamb dies, the shepherd skins the body, stretches the skinned fleece like a little lamb suit over an abandoned lamb, the lamb's front legs jammed through the front leg holes and the back legs jammed through the back leg holes the live lamb wrapped in the loved scentANDREW HUDGINS 79 of the dead one, and the deceived ewe lets the orphan suckle. Three days later when he begins to shit her milk and she smells his shit and smells herself, he's hers. This is what the dead are for: for use, hard use, the duped ewe giving suck and the orphan lamb sucking more than he can swallow, milk pouring down his chin, chest, legs, soaking the straw and packed dirt, flooding back into his closed eyes, splashing the ewe- a blessing so huge it looks like waste as we choke, gag, gulp, gag, gorge ourselves.

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Andrew Hudgins teaches at Ohio State University. His most recent book is American Rendering: New and Selected Poems. In June, Simon and Schuster will publish The Joker: A Memoir and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will publish A Clown at Midnight.

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