Fables for Our Time: Sheep-Dog : Ross Donlon

for Hugh McMillan


She tells me the girlhood story of the orphan lamb

she loved and raised on the bottle in their house

and I wonder if there’s a moral or metaphor in this.

The teenage girl growing maternal, her baby-like

pet’s eyes, the fleecy blanket’s sticky, milky touch,

I sense there could be a moral or metaphor in this.

The lamb docile in the house, sleeping with dogs,

content with the family, tv and a pack of kelpies

I think there might be a moral or metaphor in this.

Time grows, she grows, the lamb also grows but -

into a ram, still so dog-like they called him Dog.

So touching, I think there must be a moral or metaphor in this.

But wait. While lambs might live in houses, rams may not.

Rams like to ram - legs, doors, china cabinets, grandma.

I am perplexed. Can a moral or metaphor come from this?

First day interned in a paddock Dog eschews the ewes,

but breaks his back leg chasing a tabby cat up a gum tree

and I feel sure a moral if not a metaphor, must come from this.

First time for everything. The local vet makes a cast for the ram

hobbling pirate-like in a sheep paddock. So poignant, amusing

and sad, I ponder what moral or metaphor might come from this?

Cast off but still outcast, Dog greets the missus’ returning car

by ramming her door shut. Then the passenger door, boot and hood.

This unexpected development makes me query what moral or metaphor

could come from this.

Marooned in her purple Gemini, Mum yells and phones Pa, but his mobile is

switched to silent while Dog looks for more blameless panels to ram, and I

imagine Nietzsche, Jung and even Sigmund Freud quarrelling with Plato and

the School of Athens as to what moral or metaphor might be drawn from this.

Sunday dinner in the country is a time of calm.

Baked meat and vegetables fresh from the farm.

Talk subdued, apart from courtesies, ‘Pass the ram.’


Moral: I remain quietly confident there are morals and metaphors to be drawn from the tragic story of Dog the Sheep but at the time of writing, March 6, 2020 I have absolutely no idea what they might be.