A poem by Caroline Normanly

A donkey's life is so unfair
He carries more than his fair share
His noted features are extreme
His ears, his bray, his endless steam.

He gives and gives the 'all he's got'
There is no end to what he's not
I had not realised this till now
His humble place beside the cow.

I sat and watched him there one day
'Miley', so the neighbours say.
I watched him in the big green field
I waited for a truth to yield.

Miley took no heed of me
I wondered then if he could see
I tried to win him over then
With oats, I'd fed my old black hen.

He did not care for this at all
My offerings seemed very small.
I took an apple from my bag
But yet again, my heart did sag.

He must have been well fed
But seemed so sad; interest dead.
I'd heard that donkeys have a bite
But was it wrong or was it right?

And so I then reached out my hand
To touch the place above the band
He flinched beneath a gentle stroke
And then in me the truth awoke.

Left, he was, to stand alone
With no companion of his own.
Loyal though, he would not stray
The field is where he'd always stay. 

I felt his ribs, and in the rain
He stood forlorn, as if in pain
The tether tied above his hoof
Had cut in deep and this was proof.

And so he stood as if he knew
That there was nothing he could do
But wait and wait and wait all day
And sometimes, sometimes bray.

I ran my hand along his side
And talked to him with little pride
I told him things I never knew
How loneliness was for me too.


And then he moved and walked away
I knew not what to think or say
I hoped he saw me as a friend
His life I could now comprehend.

So then I turned and went away
Looking back to see him stray
He stood but would not look at me
But now I knew that he could see.

And so I saw him every day
But still he would not with me stay
Was it me or was it him?
He seemed to be so very grim.

One day I sought the owner out
It took a little bit of clout
I think he was a bit suprised
As if my motives were disguised

But no, I wondered if he cared
If Miley with me one week shared
I had a field with too much grass
And so it was and came to pass.

The afternoon seemed to labour
Then the call came from the neighbour.
"Sinead, she doesn't really care,
I'll bring him over. Bring him there."

And so began his life of care
Did all the things to help him fare,
Wormed, hooves clipped, hair was clean
No donkey better fed had been.

He grew to trust but it was slow
He loved the barn when it would snow
He loved the scratches every day
And then one morn I heard him bray.

Then the thing I had to do
The chance it came and off I flew
A sanctuary not far from here
Had a donkey wracked with fear

'Jenny' she was and is her name
And seeing her filled me with shame
From scars she had been hurt a lot
The woman said she had been shot

I could not wait to bring her back
But feared the patience I might lack
I knew it would take so much time
To save her from this awful crime

The early days were very hard
It hurt to see her body scarred
At first I could do naught but feed
Nervous and tense she ran at speed

Miley knew that she was here
I knew he sensed her awful fear
His eating stopped as if to share
In Jenny's own sad deep despair

The third day came, I let him out
So worried and so filled with doubt
He walked up to her, slow and straight
And then I knew this was his fate

He stood beside her that was all
He stayed till it was near nightfall
I called him in, and she came too
There was nothing more that I could do

They were the very best of friends
Amazing how a scar it mends
I look at donkeys all the time
Neglect is such an awful crime

The daughter used to be the one
Who owned the donkey just for fun
But she had long since moved away
And Miley just lives out his day."

So can I give him a small treat?
My place it has a lot to eat.
I have a barn with lots of hay.
I'd really like if he could stay?"

"Well okay then I'll ask Sinead
He is a gift I to her made.
If she says that it's all right
Miley shall be yours tonight."

I was delighted I had tried
Home I went with such a stride.
I passed dear Miley on the way
Crossed my fingers, said "Hooray!"