Read the poem here.
Transcript of call:
COUNSELOR: Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
KATHERINE RIEGEL: Once I complimented a poet, and he said, “It’s all lies.”
COUNSELOR: The poem? Or the compliment? Was he lying then?
RIEGEL: When one friend tries to sleep her mind is like my neighbor’s border collie.
COUNSELOR: Does it jump on the furniture?
RIEGEL: circling the yard looking for imaginary sheep.
COUNSELOR: I guess it has to find them before she can count them.
RIEGEL: I used to carry rocks in my pocket
RIEGEL: Because my often-angry father liked them.
COUNSELOR: Plain, or with scotch?
RIEGEL: Because he said, “See that stripe of red there? Isn’t it beautiful?”
COUNSELOR: Red like clay? Or like a red dog rounding up imaginary sheep?
RIEGEL: When I moved from a small town, my friend said, “Oh, I’m so glad you’re moving to a city!” as if that was a good thing.
COUNSELOR: Does city life make the sheep harder to find and count?
RIEGEL: I am so very tired of men taking up so much space on the sidewalk.
COUNSELOR: Don’t they leave enough space for the sheep?
RIEGEL: How the bully starlings swoop down on the bird feeder and all the other birds scatter.
COUNSELOR: Are you sure it’s not just the sheep jumping over the fence to be counted?
RIEGEL: How different we all are.
COUNSELOR: So if you count sheep at bedtime, then you dream about shearing them…
RIEGEL: as different as below and above water.
COUNSELOR: …would that be a dream de-furred?
RIEGEL: I do not understand you.
COUNSELOR: I’m not trying to pull the wool over your eyes.
RIEGEL: I understand you but I am not like you.
COUNSELOR: Why? What am I like?
RIEGEL: I like you
RIEGEL: But I don’t want to be like you.
COUNSELOR: Honestly, some days I don’t either.
RIEGEL: Every day the earth rotates
COUNSELOR: Like a collie rounding up dreamsheep?
RIEGEL: So only part of it is lonely at any given time.
COUNSELOR: So who’s better company–the sun or the moon?
See the full Poetry Crisis Line call below: