Bright Red Windblown Mane

Pale sunlight streams through bright red windblown mane.
A memory attends this pause in time.
My heart, my all soars high on this refrain.

My mind recalls a breeze of childhood pain.
Sharp wind-whipped mane enacts a pantomime.
Pale sunlight streams through bright red windblown mane.

A gallop through that field was near insane.
I feel the rush of that far summertime. 
My heart, my all soars high on this refrain.

She tripped, she fell and on the ground I’d lain.
I got back up and brushed away the grime.
Pale sunlight streams through bright red windblown mane.

It seemed beyond my grasp that she’d ordain,
I let her go and live beyond my crime.
My heart, my all soars high on this refrain.

A second act, I’m older, more humane.
My song continues, cantering in rhyme.
Pale sunlight streams through bright red windblown mane.
My heart, my all soars high on this refrain.

Sweet Al gazing out at his new pasture home in Amado.

A New Year Sestina

December rains called forth a new spring.
This is the way of the Sonoran Desert.
Yesterday, when skies cleared midmorning,
Tom hitched up the horse trailer,
and I brought forth my burnished chestnut horse,
rain-scrubbed and shiny like the proverbial penny.

I have spent many a pretty penny:
on a fancy brush to help remove shedding coats in spring,
on saddles and pads and blankets for the horse,
on supplements to balance the iron-rich hay grown in the desert.
I filled a bag with this hay and hung it in the trailer.
I haltered my horse, luminous in the golden light of midmorning.

It’s time to go now. Our midmorning
plan unfolds, like my checkbook, another spent penny.
Through the aisle of stalls, we promenade, onward to the trailer.
My horse walks with little hesitation, an easy spring
in his stride as we cross the New Year’s Day desert.
I marvel at the grace of this horse.

What is it about a horse?
It’s my good fortune to share another midmorning
in the light of this creature, a copper penny
vision framed by creosote-scented desert.
His hooves touch the rubbery incline, and he’s in the trailer,
reassured by my promise of another spring.

The door closes, held tight by a spring.
Since the days of the Iron Horse,
the Amado Ranch has existed. It’s our destination this midmorning
and the perfect backdrop for a historical movie. The trailer
might dramatize the settling of the American West, a time when each hard-spent penny
bought up land and the means to reshape the unforgiving desert.

But today, we drive south on I-19 through a refreshed desert.
Saguaros are hydrated, stately, and amused, arms embracing spring.
The sky isn’t falling. I’m no hysterical Henny-Penny.
Here is the ranch! Bienvenidos, my lucky horse!
His shaking hindquarters ease from the trailer–
his eye takes in the new horizon, distinct in late midmorning.

Spellbound by this expanse of desert, I see beyond and into my horse.
The confines of the trailer choked the brightness of midmorning.
Here, he fits smoothly and snuggly as a penny in a loafer. Eternal spring.

Appaloosa Gone

Rocky muddyThere he is, beyond my mare’s mud crusted back. He’s not here anymore. One eye bad, suspensory ligaments going, each day couched in pain for the old guy. He wasn’t mine, but he lived with my mare. She tried to teach him what a stud needs to do when a mare is in season, and he gave it the old college try, but ultimately, the stress on his legs was too much and he resorted to telling her to bugger off. It was better that way for cohabitation, but worse for him because it drew the end nigh.

I wasn’t there for his passing. The vet gave him a quick and easy exit. He had spent the day grazing on a yard of juicy spring grasses and had consumed an entire box of Rice Crispy Treats the day before. His last days had to have been some of his best. He was well loved.

Making the decision to euthanize always presses painfully on my normally exuberant psyche. Only a few short weeks ago I helped ease my 15 year old dog to the doggone beyond. I kept hoping he would gently exhale and float away peacefully, but he refused to let go that easily and delegated that decision to me. The hour before the veterinarian was due to arrive at our home was the hardest. My heart clenched, my eyes smarted, tear-blasted, until my breath finally accepted the inevitable. I regained my composure for him, for I knew that would be best. His last exhale was gentle, with his black and white head cradled in my lap. His ice-blue eyes became fixed, pupils dilated. My son gentle closed the lids. Even in death, the eyes kept opening, tempting me to believe he might still be in there.

While I helped the vet carry the body out to her car, I half-expected Romeo to jump back to life, to stay with me, to give corporal permanence to the indelible dog-shaped mark he’d emblazoned on my memory, but no. His body only flopped, completely devoid of what he once was.

It was the right thing to do. This is what we say. This is what we know. It doesn’t make it any easier.

To all good dogs and all good horses, and all are good, may a peaceful exit be yours.

Applause

dirty RockyWhat a bad dirty horse you are! I just gave you a bath! Couldn’t you have waited until you were dry? Is that too much to ask? What’s the matter with you?

What a good girl. What a good roll! Can you get the other side, too? Did you get all your itches? Great job, good horse!

Don’t praise her. She’ll get the wrong idea. She’ll get a big head. She’ll get conceited.  No one will like her if she’s conceited. She’ll thinks she’s the boss. You need to mold her to your specifications.

A horse gotta do what a horse gotta do! How beautiful to watch her be herself. How exciting that she can roll without the stiffness and discomfort she was experiencing. How satisfying it must feel to give the belly a good scratch! Here, have some fresh hay. There’s absolutely no mold tainting the stems.

Yesterday I heard someone on the radio talking about the curse of social media and how it has led us all to seek positive feedback. How many clicks? How many likes? How many comments? Are we more frenetic in seeking approval because of social media, or have we been starved and, like parched survivors of a seemingly infinite desert crawl, bellied up to the refreshing cool stream of hearts, thumbs ups and smiley faces?

The person on the radio was a performer of some kind, and she talked about the abyss that rises up to greet you after the applause. Is this the fault of the applause, or the fact that, deprived of praise, we falter when we hear it? We doubt we deserve it. Get it away from me! If allowed to wash over us, will our imperfections be revealed? If we smile, wide and open-mouthed, to take it into our being will our heads explode?

So we let it go, and recommence the flagellation. Whip marks get results. Shut down and status quo, we cause no ripples. We do as we are told. Predictable sameness calms our existential longing. Until someone clicks “like”.