“I believe in the gift of the horse, which is magic…”
Living without horses
is like breathing into the lungs
but never further:
never deep into the great cavity below
where horses of emerald and blue
fill the void with their squeals,
their thudding feet,
their waltzes into deep space.
To live without horses
is to slow down on the Sunset Highway
at a glimpse of chestnut rump
or a pair of pricked ears
above a bay face with a kind eye
that gazes toward the forests
draped like shawls over the Coast Range
where bluejays and woodpeckers ring out false alarms
and to breathe in the sweat and dust
of the police horse found unexpectedly
tethered to your parking meter after lunch –
then, at night, to rewind the videotape over
and over at the Budweiser commercial
sends you flying with the royal herd,
manes and tails like curtains of water,
nostrils more finely flared than the shelled human ear,
their elephantine feet
pounding the doors of a shuddering underworld
in the slowest waltz you’ve ever heard —
you’re hearing it in your abdomen
and it spills over into arteries and bones
pulsing through all your crevices
like blood from the heart’s pump.
To live without horses is to carry them with you always:
the one who lifted you over the tiger trap,
the one who kicked you when you deserved it,
and the dappled grey one who lay down under you
and died as you ran away
unable to stay with him on that path
beside the golf course, breathing in
what you would search and search for in the years to come.
Judith Barrington – Horses and the Human Soul, © 2004
1. If you watched the Belmont Stakes, I hope you write about it!
2. Extol the wonders of horses in your own poem.
3. Write about a challenge that takes extreme stamina, speed, skill, and/or phenomenal luck.
Copyrighted material. Reprinted for educational/therapeutic use.