The Traveler and the Sheep

“Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Matthew 6:29

He walks from Land’s End to John O’ Groats
wearing only boots, socks, a backpack and hat.
More than six years in prisons for refusing
to wear clothes. Each time he’s released,
they arrest him again, but he keeps walking,
naked through the dead northern winter.
He says the human body is not indecent,
but people called the police in West Yorkshire
because his penis was in plain view.
He doesn’t do what he doesn’t want to do.
And then there’s a sheep in New Zealand
who ran away on shearing day and lived
in a cave for six years — so long
his head shrunk into his puff of a body,
so did his eyes and feet. Only his jaw stuck out
from wool, mottled brown.
He looked like some biblical creature,
said the farmer who found him in the dark.
Once the farmer hunched over him
hand clamped over his snout, and
drove those flashing blades over his skin,
his wool made suits for twenty men.
But I recall the set of his jaw, resolute,
free, and his regal mane of wool, so like a lion.

Emily Mohn-Slate’s recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Pinch, Indiana Review, The Adroit Journal, Poet Lore, HEArt Journal Online, and elsewhere. She was runner-up for the 2014 Indiana Review Poetry Prize. She holds an MFA from Bennington College, and teaches writing at Carnegie Mellon University. You can find her at