Paula Bohince

Black Lamb

Violate, coal-rubbed,


like a word emboldened in an empty book

or a pearl, dark silver, loose

in chamois, pressed into my palm one Christmas…


His thumb upon my thumb, his eyes

on my eyes and everything is understood: the trespass,

the lamb, the body that will come

to loathe itself,


for even in moonlight, black lamb cannot hide,

cannot fade into the chalky path

as white sheep do.


Black has a singular weight.  Painted,

achieves luminous transparency, so that any pistol,

any night sea, shines plainly.


By such proof, my lamb was a phantom.  Its kink

and dread reflected nothing.


Profane this landscape, my widening

pupil, drossy with grass charred and spiked short after

a fire, maggots milky in the abattoir’s eaves,


black lamb deep in troublesome clover,

alone, quaking beneath dwarf pines.



“Black Lamb” first appeared in Crazyhorse, Number 68.