The Old Man Moved Me

Before Him:


The need --
Burned from
inside each of us;
Long-past endless forgotten summer mornings
With the sound of the rain doves calling storms
Found us already out --
Hair tied back under corduroy caps imagined to resemble velvet.
Rain soaked earth
Where we dug with our fingernails
Patterns of horseshoes of horses we never knew;
Wind whipped manes that didn't exist across our eyes
Which saw creatures we couldn't have seen.
Swayed backs and Roman noses were only beautiful to us when we heard of them --
Hearing beyond them the tumbling hooves of a gallop we couldn't have heard.
Thunder brought our dreams inside,
Safe, in the stable
With the grassy floor and the maple walls.
Lightning sheltered us,
and the need --
Burned from inside each of us
And galloped on,
To the stable sky;
While Heaven nested in the rafters and kept us warm.

With Him:


You are the spirit of my dreams
Of grace and dance and moonlit things
Whose shimmer stirs hot coffee eyes
While thunder hooves make starlight rise
And moonbeams bounce from satin skin
That holds a brilliant mind within
That knows wild games but all in play
A dream by night, a friend by day
Who's made of summer air and breeze
And could've met the moon with ease
If your time was aimed above
Instead of filling me with love
And stealing hats and breaking things
And sewing me a pair of wings
That could have flown *me* to the moon
If I didn't have to be back soon
To fill a bucket, pour some grain,
Free a tangle from your mane,
But who needs moons and who needs stars
When they could have a world like ours
And live among the summer dust
And winter snow and buckle rust
And broken bridles, books, and gates
And farrier and lesson rates
And something else we also know
That can't compare to winter snow
Or moonlight spots or stardust beams
Or even really awesome dreams
Because it's real, because you're near
And I can even feel you here
If not because you're all I see
Then maybe 'cause you're biting me!

After Him:


I told you I'd be back for you
one stupid day when I couldn't possibly have known.

Came back in time to say goodbye to you for five minutes
and tell you to go.

Later, I stood at your graveside,
trying to find words.

I was silent.
Your hoofbeats were silent.
Your hoofbeats are silent.

Come winter, I won't warm my hands in a mane,
And you won't grow a thick winter coat to tame,

And you won't start shedding in January
while the rest of us still have no hope of spring.

I won't chop the ice in your water bucket
till my hands to the wrist are numb,

And I won't be covered in horse hair.
Spring is never going to come.


A Tribute to my Fellow Traveler

We have traveled so many miles,
and yours were different, sweet boy, from mine,

But both paths led us to this space,
This broken-hearted time and place,

My limp hand resting on your back,
Your playful, grinding jaw now slack

As if you have already gone
Instead of waiting, dusk till dawn,

For your girl to drive through her despair
The final miles that we will share.

"I'm here now, guy. You know that, right?
You felt me as I drove all night?

"Lie still so the vet can make you feel better,"
I whisper as my cheeks grow wetter.

As you gallop into space,
No more sweet looks to cross your face,

And no more secrets soft, to share,
And, oh my god, this isn't fair,

I send a part of me along
to travel with you, right or wrong.

"You can't go with him," people say
"It isn't healthy to feel this way.

"You know that he was just a horse,
So grief shouldn't hit you with such force."

... You know,

It had occurred to me
that you were just a horse.

A horse who bit me on the rear
and threw me off with extra force --

A horse who loved, with all his heart,
his peppermints, and me

A horse who raised me from a child
and saw who I could be.

We will travel so many miles,
on and on forever,

And yours are different, sweet boy, from mine.
That won't get any better.

But this broken girl you've left behind
who feels her future waver

Will get up now and carry on
With the strength you gave her.