Dead Sheep

by Baxter Black

There’s been a dead sheep out in Brent’s wheat field for a month. Emilio had a band of ewes on the corn stalks across the road. I reckon that one got hit by a car.

The sheep have moved on. Brent plowed his field. Plowed around the carcass. Now it is sort of mouldering into the earth. I see it every time I drive to town. Nobody pays much attention to it. It’s rural out here. But we had company last week. Town folks. They seemed a little upset that we’d just drive by a dead sheep day after day and not give it a second thought.

It reminded me of my trip to the nation’s capital. The parks and sidewalks speckled with people, beggars and winos. I couldn’t help but notice them. Where do they live? How much do they make a day holdin’ out a cup? Do they sleep in the park?

When I expressed my concern about these ragged folks, the locals seemed surprised. They hadn’t given it much thought, they said. Welfare or the soup kitchens, they guessed. This human flotsam was just part of the landscape, like bus fumes and potholes.

I wonder what sort of furor would erupt if there was a dead sheep at the corner of 9th St. and Pennsylvania Avenue? Would they just haul it off or would there be an investigation? Would it be a police matter, the State Department, Department of Agriculture, the local human society?

In small towns a homeless person stands out like a dead sheep on the White House lawn! I would like to think they would be offered help. I do know they wouldn’t fade inconspicuously into the woodwork. They would, at the very least, get a lot of attention. They might even get arrested as vagrants!

Sometimes country compassion comes with a price, “We’ll get you fixed up and get you a job.” Maybe, just maybe, some of these drifters don’t want jobs. Maybe they prefer the anonymity of big cities where no one cares, but at least no one makes any demands.

Do people become more civilized when they move to the city? Or do they become more civilized when they move back to the country? I don’t know the answer to that.

But I guess I could go drag that ol’ sheep off. I thought if I waited long enough the coyotes or United Way would take care of the problem. ‘Course maybe the sheep likes it there.