Animals

The Body’s World

ANdalusian_Stallion_getting_a_bath_and_enjoying_the_water_on_a_hot_day_at_the_Kentucky_Horse_Park_(5966849386)

 

THE BODY’S WORLD

 

—after Raymond Carver

 

When we wake up early

to ride the horses and find them

sweating already in their fine summer coats,

 

we carefully get the hose

and play cold water

over their backs, their necks,

 

their rising haunches

powerful as tree roots.

We laugh when the youngest

 

tosses her head at the spray

like a dog in a sprinkler,

and we murmur to the oldest

 

mare, who carried

our mother before we lost her—

four years ago now—

 

when she lowers

her head, neck loose

and eyes half closed

 

in cool body pleasure.

We do not speak of it,

the ride we now will not take

 

to the place you call Hawk Hollow,

how I am leaving your state

in two days. We fill

 

all the water troughs

and use our shirts to wipe

the sweat stinging our eyes.

 

Our mother lived more

in the body’s world

than either of us can. But this morning

 

we know in our skin and hands

what it is to do

one small, good thing.

 

–originally published in the Sandhill Review

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