May 18, 2019

If in New York

Poetry Project
St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery
131 E. 10th Street

May 12, 2019

Sheep for sheep

Al-Asma‘i said: I was told by Khalaf al-Ahmar, who heard it from a man of the Banu Hirmaz, whose father told him:.

       Al-‘Ajjaj came to me and asked, "Would you accept a ewe lamb in exchange for another sheep that answers my description?"
     "What is your description?" I said.
     "Not much hair in the front, but lots of hair in back. From the front, you'd think it was a goat, but from behind you can tell it's a sheep."
       I searched my flocks, and found one sheep answering his description, which I gave to him, and took his ewe lamb in exchange. I wouldn't have done this for just anyone - but this was al-‘Ajjaj, who might bring fame to my flocks!

Al-Asma‘i, The Book of the Sheep