Rosemary is for remembrance.

In France they cook it with roast lamb

A sprig tucked under the skin.

We drench ours in mint sauce,

Acid vinegar smothering the delicate flesh

But we are a nation of animal lovers

(So long as they are small and furry and don’t annoy us)

And we burnt those sheep and the lambs within

Their legs sticking stiffly from the flames.

The disease, you see, affected our agricultural economics.

The fells are cleared now of sheep

And I hear they are covered in flowers

Unseen since the sheep over-grazed their slopes

They evicted the crofters in favour of sheep

‘Woolly Gold’ the landowners called them

And the stone cottages have fallen down

Except where they have been refurbished

For human sheep, who love to flock

on holidays to places of natural beauty

Leaving them empty and dead out of season

The sons and daughters of village families

Have, perforce, to emigrate.   The prices

Are too high for them to bear

What do we, the common herd

Expect of our land?   To provide us

with food?  Or sanitised entertainment?

Easy access to gentle walks?

A theme park carefully planted

With ancient implements, ancient folk in funny dress?

Carefully laid-out paths for wheelchairs?

And guided trails to avoid getting lost?

(Or to keep the herd together?)

All threatened by climate change

Global warming, a new ice age

Depending on where the Gulf Stream goes

Made by us, as we use our cars

To take our under-exercised kids to school

Or do a massive shop at Supermarkets

For whom producers slave for pitiful pay

To give us cheap food and special offers

Fair Trade gives hope to those who labour

Education for their children, access to health

But do we care?   I doubt the majority do

Or even know.   Their news comes in easy

Sexy bites with juicy gossip and simple words.

Oh God, what have we done to your creation?

© Gillian Peall

This was written in 2001 when the foot and mouth disease was rife in England and Wales.     Burning pyres of cattle and sheep were seen throughout the land, footpaths were closed, tourism was checked, and it was a very sad time in the country.

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