As to Why We Will Not Stop (Making the Hats)

This time it does not begin with the beaver
Instead only halfway up the mountain
Where the sheep we keep each year come through

Winter enough to answer us, enough
For us to shear, deft before the coming storm,
To take away from the body what it did not know

It grew and then astonished each spring to feel 
The quickening of the lamb, the heft of
Sudden weight crossing one more patch

Of snow. All with an eye out
For the cougar or some such animal
Of which the DNA is no longer

What it might have been, the coyote now
As part dog part wolf   
Already commonplace. We have come to know the truth

As no longer true— the old ways do not work
Against the new. How to reconcile the bear
As she comes down to what we now call ours

And how to prepare for the unforeseen
As we throw each sheep handily on their back
To begin at the belly—fleece to shear,

To wash, and pick, to card, to bale, to weigh,
To the depot where all will be spun, dyed
Into the wool we want, knowing it can be done

Again and again without much death
For the sheep she rises, shakes herself
Back into where she was before: grass, lamb;

Watches until we have pulled away,
As we head back down the mountain—
And in something like ability, or capacity, 

The condition of being human, or female,
Or both, we want to knit this out, into
Dawn light, into a long stream

Of making sense, into where we will go next,
Into skeins of design and colors
Of what blood can mean, pinks

Such as rose or carmine, wanton or nearly red,
Timid or raw, healing or newly born,
Scarlet, blaze, bloom, or shell, or blush,

Like the small fingers of a wakening child,
Each stitch to repeat, purl and dispatch,
To get this done, and into that which

We can call sustainable, so those from behind
Can choose from the many hues; likewise
To walk forward with covered or uncovered heads.

Copyright © 2017 by Sophie Cabot Black. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 7, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.