You’d complain when I hugged you
straight in from the field
and shedding your waterproofs
darkened with rain
the water still dripping from your hair
and your nose red and bright
as you hunted for a hankie
somewhere in the multitude of pockets
stuffed with bits of bailer twine,
pocket knife, pens and ear tag numbers.
‘I smell like sheep,’ you’d complain,
and you did.
Heavy and clinging
it had a way of hanging on like another layer
sinking into the skin until it engrained
after too many long days moving livestock
field to field
Foot trimmer, lamber, fleece folder,
that amount of work should have seemed insane.
To me it did
and I think you saw it too, still see it
but love it too much for anything else.
We went drawing lambs at Colehurst,
me knee deep in sheep
while you sorted them at the top
swearing at them for being difficult
but telling me you ‘bloody loved your sheep’.
not dads, not ours, god knows not mine.
They were your sheep
that left my hands sticky with Lanolin
and thinking of the kitchen in Spring
warm and inviting
as you came in from the rain.
This piece turned out a lot longer than I expected to. The prompt was to write a piece using the theme of a smell that brought up the memory of something. To be honest there were a few memories I could have picked and a few scents that I could have used, but the strongest connect I’ve discovered is that the smell of sheep always reminds me of my mother. Anyone who has lived with a sheep farmer knows that the smell gets into everything and while it isn’t the most pleasant of smells, for me it’s incredibly comforting. It’s the smell of home.