I once had a small small slightly wild five acres in the Washington woods, and I shared it with some wild things, like Eagle and Deer and Rabbit. I also shared it with Goat, a horse named Sal, a rather beautiful gold cat, and two dogs. Oh, and lest I forget, one fish. They were part of many things I wrote. They insisted on this. In fact, they surrounded me when I wrote (or did anything else at home for that matter). Thankfully, Sal and Goat tended to stay outside, but I can see them through the window above the computer screen. Once in a while, they insisted I write about them. Now they are all staying with friends and family since I am in a one-bedroom condo in the Seattle area.  But they appear happy, and still say "Hi" to me (except Goat, who discovered I am not a goat as soon as he met some real goats, and runs away when he sees me.  I'm convinced he's scared that I might try and take him back and convince him I am a goat again).

The fish simply swam

The cat quickly kissed my water in the glass

Blessed it with beasts tongue and cunning

Flicked her tall golden tail at the ceiling

And stalked off having done

Exactly what she planned and no more

 

The summer slick bay gelding bent his neck

Like a centurion's horse in a painting

Perfect with flared nostrils and the field

Reflected in the full sienna pupils of his eyes

As they watched each front and behind at once

 

The very small goat wrapped his tether

Three times around the cedar's trunk

By following his endlessly empty stomach

Clockwise for a long time and stood bleating

In his high tiny voice until he just lay down

 

The black dog and his grayed muzzle

Slipped three times around one way

And three times the other trying to simply

Lay down then leapt up as if a younger dog

Inside had seen the flashing tail of a rabbit

 

My son's brown and white boxer placed

Her paw so hard on my thigh it was heavy

With her need to be petted and the loneliness

Of wanting someone specific who simply

Wasn't around at that particular moment in history

 

6-99 ©


Raising Horses in the Rain

 

The neighbors borrowed an extra stall

for an old skinny horse who’s knee had been kicked

all the way to the bone by her stable mate.

I remember hearing her hooves rake against the barn wall

as I broke open a bale of sweet Oregon grass hay,

threw flakes to my two horses through the gate,

called them silly names, and kissed Sal between the eyes

as he reached over the fence and nickered.

I hurried down to my room to trade jeans for heels and hose,

and went off to work without thinking twice

about the old girl. The rain and wind were thick when I got home,

so I skipped her, thinking of the cold and my clothes

sticking to me, smelling like horse hair and wet hay.

The next morning was still damp, and at first light

I managed to remember to bring a carrot for the old mare.

I leaned over the stall door and she was down. She lay

still, long neck stretched on the ground with blood pooled

beneath her head and her big dark eyes dulled in a final stare.

Clearly she had been shot in mercy and they could

have warned me so I wouldn’t bring her a treat

she couldn’t have. Two days ago she had nuzzled grain

from my palm with soft gentle lips. I stood

there a long time talking to her before breaking the carrot

in two and sharing it between my warm horses bathed by rain.

3-99 ©