Wednesday, May 17, 2006

poem of the day

Lest I find myself accused of not practicing what I preach about content, here's a sad poem about a horse.

by Maxine Kumin

How pleasant the yellow butter

melting on white kernels, the meniscus

of red wine that coats the insides of our goblets

where we sit with sturdy friends as old as we are

after shucking the garden's last Silver Queen

and setting husks and stalks aside for the horses

the last two of our lives, still noble to look upon:

our first foal, now a bossy mare of 28

which calibrates to 84 in people years

and my chestnut gelding, not exactly a youngster

at 22. Every year, the end of summer

lazy and golden, invites grief and regret:

suddenly it's 1980, winter buffets us,

winds strike like cruelty out of Dickens. Somehow

we have seven horses for six stalls. One of them,

a big-nosed roan gelding, calm as a president's portrait

lives in the rectangle that leads to the stalls. We call it

the motel lobby. Wise old campaigner, he dunks his

hay in the water bucket to soften it, then visits the others

who hang their heads over their dutch doors. Sometimes

he sprawls out flat to nap in his commodious quarters.

That spring, in the bustle of grooming

and riding and shoeing, I remember I let him go

to a neighbor I thought was a friend, and the following

fall she sold him down the river. I meant to

but never did go looking for him, to buy him back

and now my old guilt is flooding this twilit table

my guilt is ghosting the candles that pale us to skeletons

the ones we must all become in an as yet unspecified order.

Oh Jack, tethered in what rough stall alone

did you remember that one good winter?


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