When she's not tending sheep or working in the Community Health office or teaching young people life and life saving skills, Cheryl is writing poetry. She has three of her poems included in an anthology of fifty years of West Virginia poetry Wild Sweet Notes. E-mail Mike concerning a cassette or CD of Cheryl reading her poetry.

Our Jacob Sheep

People always ask
they know your voice
they follow you

I am not Jesus
and these sheep follow
an old dry wall bucket with feed
that I shake
while yelling, Eh Woolly Woolly
hoping they'll follow me.

They ignore me
then one by one stare
stark-faced at the pail
until some ewe baas

Dennis and Mike herd from behind
sprawled arms waving the way.

They chase me
out the gate
past the pines
down the hill
a sharp left
into their new pasture
feed jostles
ewes bawl
as if I won't feed the last ones in.

Not all of them come.
I yell louder,
violently shake the bucket.
Suddenly the rest bolt in,
Mike behind them.

I pour feed in wooden troughs,
smelly wool bodies bang my legs.
Dennis closes the gate

Jesus must have been talking about
some different breed,
ours are biblical but old testament.
After we’ve led them to greener pastures
they crowd in the corner
stressed and shuffling
like teenagers their first day back at school.

I never much liked their namesake
that soft skinned mama's boy
stealing Esau's birthright.
Maybe the sheep sense it.

No, I tell anyone who asks
our sheep are not what Jesus had in mind
but maybe more like us.

Cheryl Denise