“Marking the Lambs”

As crickets geiger-up for spring, we corral the ram lambs. They stutter and dense against the fence wheezing for the ewes. Down wince, down retch: up one and flip his back to mud, knee to sternum. The banded tail will black to wizen, prune off easy. But marking is all trespass: thumb the soft belly to pop the scrotum out, then lunge and turn the mind away, teeth working, working, to snap back and spit. I try not to taste but I am all mouth, all salt blood and lanolin. I hear their bleatings through my tongue. They call it marking
for the tooth-scars on the belly, but when I speak tonight, my words will sputter and decay, and when try to say your name I will pronounce it elegy.