Chasing Poems at Pasture

June 6, 2019

The speed at which things pass is robbery. Poems flash like strobes of light below trees and then are gone.

 

For instance, on my way to St. Helena a cluster of Clydesdales stood grazing in a spring-green pasture. Beloved red bodies, glistening in the sun, slightly smaller than adults but larger than babies--teenage draft horses, drafted into a motherless roaming.

 

I wanted to slow time and see them approaching as a fly sees a hand or a horse’s tail. I wanted to do more than eyes do. But the small grew larger in yards; the peripheral and expectant became present and almost past in seconds.

 

Our time is up. Yet, I turn my head once more as if someone dared me. The poet’s optical ache pulls at the ligaments of my left eye. rubbernecking past those little collisions between life and art.

 

Then the artless task returns; the horrific fact of steel and wheel, foot and hand, presses my mind to my mortality like a hand to the bible in court. Prose comes home. So I sweep the similes off the horses’ backs like a thief’s forearm sweeps a table’s contents into a sack, each irreplaceable to be examined and worshiped later—in quiet, in stillness.

 

Later, in the clock-less office of memory, you empty the contents onto the floor. Only here do you notice how the horses’ withers and hips alternate like shoulders and feet in a crowded bed. Only then can you study the broadness of their faces, each wide with a white blaze, snow plowing through the red dirt of a forehead, falling like paint down the curve of their black muzzle into a soft-lipped gray.

 

You chase the tail of an animal and ride it, write it, summon it into being.

 

And isn’t that the truth--I reach for you, I want you, I remember you, because you’re already in my rearview.​

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