I bore him in his happy madness,
days when he was eighteen and alone
swooning at the beauty of my back and eyes,
the trees rising up from the flash of the creek
and the sound of words and the numbers of elements
were one mystery.
The color of his eyes matched the morning sky
and his thighs were tender and subtle
so that I kicked up my heels.
After an absence he came back –
I whinnied at the sound of his step
and he was heavier and took more chances
riding with his followers, showing off
at night, in storms, taking the long way home
for its blacker beauty but I knew the way.
Under the fearful black compressions of space,
under the wheeling burning orbits of sun after sun
I grew older.
I blew smoke from my nostrils into the pine-sweet midnight.
Much later he stood by the corral thin as the fence-rails,
he climbed on without my saddle
wrapped his arms around my neck
his cheek in my mane
yet he was so heavy (the weight of his unlaughed laughter)
I braced out my legs, kept up my head
and gave him back my warmth and my breath.
In my stall my chin rests on the door.
My clouded eyes roll the empty corridor.
Others brush me, lead me out.
Never again from his open palm a carrot,
never his voice behind my head chanting –
they have cut him out from the herd.
I eat too much, stamp at the stable boy,
rumble and cough and swish my tail
dreaming of the time I split the wood of my world
with one blow of my hoof.
Jean Barrett Holloway has acted on stage and television, taught English as a Second Language and various high school subjects to adults, taught strength training for UCLA Extension, competed and coached in Olympic-style weightlifting, and written articles and book chapters in the field of exercise science, all in Los Angeles. Poetry started solitary at age 12, and eventually expanded into sharing at workshops. Jean’s poetry has appeared/will appear in the humor journal HA!, the chapbook Moon Upside Down, Stars in Rows, Winners of the Writers’ Haven Formal Poetry Contest 2004, and the poetry journals Tiger’s Eye and Spillway.