The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Alex Baldwin

“Can You Draw More Sheep for Ammon to Protect?”


The woman I love has a family that goes to church. In Utah. To my left, in the same pew, a small child lays out an array of crayons across her mother’s lap and flips open a book. The coloring book gives Ammon a sword, the robbers clubs, and the sheep a streamy meadow in the foreground of snow-capped triangles. It’s the scene right before the story, which the picture leaves for the parents to tell: Ammon slices off the arms of the sheep-robbers to then dump them, the arms, in a pile at the foot of the king as proof of his value as a servant. Why would a coloring book ask a child to draw more sheep into this story? Into this need to be protected? Who wants to be born into such a scene? Into such a need? But when the girl finishes making Ammon’s legs green, his war skirt black and orange, his sword yellow, she looks up at me bored, so I hear myself say draw more sheep. As she does I think about the woman to my right, the woman I love, the woman who doesn’t seem to mind how sweaty our hands become clasped together through the service, and what she said earlier on the freeway: I want a baby. It’s the scene before the story. There was a billboard for plastic surgery, for laser-hair removal; I felt like a sheep in need of protection. I pictured her pregnant as a bag of severed arms. The woman I love wants to have a baby; I feel like a king.




ALEX BALDWIN alternates between teaching college writing and backpacking in the inter-mountain West. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Idaho.  This is his first published poem. 



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