The Horses Down The Road

I.

They are always together

The horses down the road

Two draft horses side by side, In their finite footed enclosure

Surrounded by field and forest.

Day after day
They are together,
The horses down the road,
They are there,
Across the way,
Enormous. Gallant. Galloping side by side. Heads tossing, Manes flying.

Nuzzling horses in love. Sometimes noses to the dirt
In vain pursuit of grasses,

They are infrequently separate,

The horses down the road.

When I drive by
At night or in stormy weather
And they are hidden from view in their stalls
Built into the end of a large old barn
With its stone foundation from the quarry up the hill,

I am startled by their absence.
Want to cry out
“These horses must never be parted.”

Every so often, there is only one horse standing

As if peering through a heavy snow falling
As the winds howl,
For sight or scent of one’s beloved,

Or, through a fog
Out to sea.
Or down a crevice which suddenly appeared
On the side of a mountain where one’s lover has disappeared

And one readies oneself
To leap down the mountain’s crevice
To run out into the howling blizzard
To run blindly through the fog
Jump off the edge of the cliff into the crashing waves

Because nothing else matters,
Life and death become but one and there is
Nothing else but reuniting with our beloved.

They appeared,
Last year,
These glorious beings
These Godlike beings
These beings more magnificent

Than anything man could ever create

Any edifice,

Any art,
Any architecture,

Anything of technology.

They are the place to me where the land meets the sea.

II.

One day, finally I park my car, dart across.

Although they don’t let on in any language we learned in school,

I know I am seen immediately.
I was seen in my car
On the other side of the highway.

I have been seen all of these past months,

Just as I have been seeing.

I wait patiently by the wood fence.

Cows graze a larger fenced perimeter.

Finally they come, slowly, appearing not to care

Trying to hide their curiosity.
The smaller horse in the lead
Funnels up, flank to me.

From five feet away now,
One watery brown eye, a horse eye,

Looks at me from another world.

I want to become a horse with these horses.
No matter how small the temporary confinement,
If I could be promised,
Assured to be with them, hoofed and standing in mud, tomorrow,

I would die today.

Happily leaving behind the folly of being human.

I would teach them
(As if they don’t know),
How to jump fences and

Galloping alongside,
Show them the long way to
The remaining few untamed forests,

Where our hair would grow thick and long.

As I stand there, jolted back to the world of flesh and bones, blood and lymph,

The horse, his head just a couple inches from mine,
Pulls up a top lip
To expose closed yellowing teeth.

I am not a horse person so I have no idea what this means
But I take it as a gesture of acceptance,
Slowly raising and tentatively moving my hand along the horse’s dusty neck

Huge as tree trunk
Reddish hair coarse and soft at the same time,
Muscle as hard as the earth upon which I stand.

I walk away with a fist full of gritty hair and time collapsed as
I see them in the aftermath,
Splayed on battlefield,

Generations of horses like
The horses down the road,
Once wild,
Captured, subdued,
Carrying men into battle,

Momentarily victorious atop

Their endlessly reinvented heights.

III.

Huge beautiful beings
The horses down the road
More beautiful than the earth and sky
Than the sea and stars,
The horses down the road
Standing in dirt and mud
Food and water from a steel bin, in the middle
Surrounded by an endless vista of grassy field, rushing stream

And nearby forest.

   

 ©  Susan Lynn Gesmer, The Horse Down The Road, 2011

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