These Lambs, These Clouds

By Lesley Jenike

It’s lambing season and the scene’s so thick
with young, from a pace you’d think milkweed blossom—
downy, tender, meant to drift over dung-
stippled pasture away on air.

Teens sunburn their skin by the old trestle
over Derwent River, clinging to steel
before leaping, splayed, feet-first, into the blue,
mutton-headed with pot and bottles of beer

sunk in the current to cool. Even the old
take their mountains raw, never switch back,
but straight up a south face soft with gorse, swarmed
in jackdaw, they spring for the summit,

then down again to plunge their legs in Lake
Derwentwater. You’re high on waste too,
and what I mean is a fell’s dappled vale,
a fen you traipse through, a slope or seed-gone

fallow, inhaled smoke from a weird fire,
faith’s pill left to melt outside the mouth.
You’re useless to the useful. Everyone
on the land is as drunk—these lambs, these clouds.

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