Today's poem is by Julianne Buchsbaum

Slowly, Slowly, Horses

Night designs a darkness of horseweed.
Without this fear
in me I would not know where to be.
The field is steeped
in darkness where the horses died.
I would not know
how to be silent. Something cold grooms
what's left of their hides,
the tussocked weeds, and it is not, no,
it is never the wind.
If it were the wind, I would hear it the way
a drowning man
tastes water, the way a horse remembers
grass, the cramp of colic.
Night is nothing but night before red
spiders foam
from its mouth, before horses paw
the dirt at dawn.
Give them room to breathe, I say.

I rode bareback once in a brown lake;
they couldn't see us
from the house, couldn't save us if
we went down.
Mountains loomed around and no one,
I promised myself,
no one ever again. My mouth made
the slack shape
water makes when something falls into it.

Night is such a furled feminine thing
around the muscles
of horses, the nettles in their fetlocks,
it is nothing
but the night before and the night after,
only starrier,
uglier. I try to shake them from it, take
their pain away,
they're dirty, I think, I'll make them clean.
It goes cold
again as horsetails lash the air; shadows
in the heart of the field, flooding it, and I flee.
All night long
I see the violent iron frowns of horseshoes.
Someday this pasture
will be pavement. See the barbed wire?
See the weeds?
Once I had a breath I did not breathe.

Copyright © 2001 Julianne Buchsbaum All rights reserved
from Slowly, Slowly, Horses
Ausable Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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