Sunday, April 4, 2010

My Crippled Lamb

A poem in honor of my nephew, Benjamin McKay Orton, on the occasion of his eighth birthday:

Inside, a ewe cried out in pain;
Outside, the very sky was torn
By lightning and full sheets of rain
The night my crippled lamb was born.

The doctor had prepared a shot
And moved with haste to take the life
That nature had so dearly bought
With bloody, elemental strife.

I should not have, and yet I cried
Out, “Stop!” and volunteered to care
For that small life which else had died
Without my intercession there.

I spoke, and he, he looked aghast,
Till pity moved him to explain:
“You’ll save the lamb--but at what cost?
What of your freedom will remain?

“This crippled lamb will tether you,
Discourage you from leaving home;
In years to come you’ll grow to rue
This lamb you cannot leave alone.”

My soaring spirits fell back flat,
Depressed. But when push came to shove,
I held my ground, determined that
Mere reason would not conquer love.

Yet in the intervening years,
I learned that reason’s price is steep;
I bathed my crippled lamb in tears
As love oft gave me cause to weep.

This lamb for whom I’d promised care
Had constant need of food and drink,
And carrying it everywhere
Left me so weary I would sink

Down at the end of day and cry,
“Have mercy, Lord, on foolish me!
My heart has obligated my
Poor brain beyond capacity.”

No knight came riding in relief;
My lamb remained. And so, at length,
I put away my childish grief,
Returned to work with all my strength.

Then my bruised shoulders seemed somehow
Much broader than they had before.
My shoulders were still bruised, but now
They better fit the load I bore.

My crippled lamb is crippled still--
And will be until it is dead
And buried in that far off hill
Where all infirmities have fled.

The shepherd of that hill is he
To whom I am a crippled sheep,
A doctor who will set me free
From sin and death’s eternal sleep.

Then we shall gambol joyfully,
My Lord, my little lamb, and me,
And in that day His words shall be,
“Fear not, you did it unto me.”

Happy birthday, Benji!


Aaron H. said...

Bravo. Well played.

Becky said...

It's most beautiful dear brother. My favorite birthday present for Ben. Thank you for this gift. xoxo

Jenny said...


Mom said...

Beautiful...full of love from a brother...such comfort you gave....Bless you . mom
I have been invited to a poetry luncheon on Wed. and will bring this as my contribution.

shirlgirl said...

Beautiful tribute to a sweet spirit.

Brian, Kristi and Keira said...

amazing. thank you.

Jake said...

Thank you for sharing with me your gifts.