The Conversion of Sheep Hugh McMillan

When St Fillian first came upon the sheep
they stood with their Sumerian heads
and stared him out,
for it is a fact that though sheep are mentioned
many times in the bible,
it is always in a bad way.
Follow me said St Fillian,
I have a new path and he pointed
into the hills, to where the sun was rising
setting the gorse to blaze.
They had seen many
paths and sunrises,
you might say they were
inured to them.
They had grass here,
green enough,
and every second Thursday
a book group,
due to discuss that night the third of
Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo Trilogy,
illustrating existentialism
in a non-Western context.
Nevertheless they saw
the fine pitch of madness
in the old man’s eyes
and, reminding themselves
they were essentially
compliant herd animals,
followed.

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