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F E B R U A R Y   1 9 9 4

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THE LOVE OF AGED HORSES

by Jane Hirshfield


Hear Jane Hirshfield read this poem (in RealAudio):

RA 28.8, RA 14.4

(For help, see a note about the audio.)

Also by Jane Hirshfield:
The Song (1986)
Within This Tree (1991)
Lying (1994)
Three Foxes by the Edge of the Field at Twilight (1996)
The Poet (1997)
Apple (1999)

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Because I know tomorrow
his faithful gelding heart will be broken
when the spotted mare is trailered and driven away,
I come today to take him for a gallop on Diaz Ridge.

Returning, he will whinny for his love.
Ancient, spavined,
her white parts red with hill-dust,
her red parts whitened with the same, she never answers.

But today, when I turn him loose at the hill-gate
with the taste of chewed oat on his tongue
and the saddle-sweat rinsed off with water,
I know he will canter, however tired,
whinnying wildly up the ridge's near side,
and I know he will find her.

He will be filled with the sureness of horses
whose bellies are grain-filled,
whose long-ribbed loneliness
can be scratched into no-longer-lonely.

His long teeth on her withers,
her rough-coated spots will grow damp and wild.
Her long teeth on his withers,
his oiled-teakwood smoothness will grow damp and wild.
Their shadows' chiasmus will fleck and fill with flies,
the eight marks of their fortune stamp and then cancel the earth.
From ear-flick to tail-switch, they stand in one body.
No luck is as boundless as theirs.




Copyright © 1994 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; February 1994; Within This Tree; Volume 273, No. 2; page 81.

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