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A Publication of
Catholic Concern for Animals


Selections From The Ark Number  205 - Spring 2007


HOW THEY FOUND us at all is a mystery –
we didn’t know ourselves where we’d be
that night. The master, he was worried –
slapping me and shouting if I stopped.
It’s late! We won’t get in anywhere!
He said that over and over. Hard on me, he was –
and I was trying not to rock her or stumble –
her, so patient, patting me. Near her time
poor thing. I know how she felt
(a mother myself, you see).

As I was saying, it’s a wonder they found us,
tucked away in a stable. She deserved their gifts –
for the baby, I mean. It was him they came to see.
The shepherds were first, I liked their bleating lamb.
Led by a star they were. And the others –
those from the East, with strange voices.
Rich, riding camels, I was uneasy about them –
it was after they left that the trouble started.
Slaughter of new-born boys everywhere.

We had to leave suddenly – at night, hiding
from soldiers. On and on we went,
the Master driving me over rocks and rivers.
We didn’t stop except to feed the baby.
By some miracle, we escaped to safety –
a sandy land, miles from home.
It was there that the cross grew in my fur.
One dark line down my back, and another
over my shoulders - just where the baby rested.
I know it was his blessing, this cross.
Seems like Jesus blessed me with long life as well –
I’m older than most of my kind. Outlived
my time. Things I’ve heard lately …
A grandson of mine, the other day
carried Jesus into Jerusalem. A triumph it was –
palms spread out in front of his hooves.
Now he’s boasting – says the cross in his fur
came directly from the fingers of Jesus.
But I know he inherited it …
These young up-and-comings! Wanting everything,
Claiming heaven and earth.

-Gladys Mary Coles

  • Ms Coles is an award-winning poet who teaches Imaginative Writing at both Liverpool universities. She kindly offered this poem for The Ark.
  • Ms Coles is also President of the Mary Webb Society (author of the very moving book Gone to Ground)– and has written a excellent profile of the writer on the website

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