Childhood Music

By Matthew Thorburn

Old Schmidt clacks two sticks to tell his sheep it’s time for bed he smells like a barn Mother says blue overalls always muddy always something filthy in his hands a hoe or rake a snake a dead bird a wiry dog trots alongside dirty as he is tin bell around its neck so weird familiar music comes drifting back bark jingle mutter clack and fades away they were a little family it’s true it’s time he calls time to go back over the hill into the barn where he did sometimes drowse beside them where he was happiest there in the dry hay the sagging gray barn they locked up they burned down one night all the sheep inside.

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