Friday, November 19, 2010

Two Poems

Pie and I went on a nice walking trail ride, accompanied by my husband, who was out on his daily walk.  We went about 1 1/2 miles - it was a mite chilly (wind chills in the 30sF) but I think a good time was had by all.  Then Pie and I worked on our four cones exercise in the arena, and even did a bit of work at the trot.  Good Pie!  Dawn is being neglected at the moment - in this windy cold weather she can be a little too much for this middle-aged lady.  Speaking of age, I realized that if Pie makes it to 30, I'll be over 80 (if I make it that far)! - the second poem below made me think about that.  I hope that he and I will get old together, riding all the way.

And Pie nickered to me this morning - first time - it probably just meant he was hungry but I'll take it just the same.

* * * * * *
I just encountered two wonderful poems from Maxine Kumin's book Where I Live: New and Selected Poems 1990-2010 that I wanted to share.

First, "Praise Be":

Eleven months, two weeks in the womb
and this one sticks a foreleg out
frail as a dowel quivering
in the unfamiliar air and then
the other leg, cocked at the knee
at first, then straightening
and here's the head, a big blind fish
thrashing inside its see-through sack
and for a moment the panting mare
desists, lies still as death.

I tear the caul, look into eyes
as innocent, as skittery
as minnows.  Three heaves, the shoulders pass.
The hips emerge.  Fluid as snakes
the hind legs trail out glistering.
The whole astonished filly, still
attached, draws breath and whinnies
a treble tremolo that leaps
in her mother who nickers a low-key response.

Let them prosper, the dams and their sucklings.
Let nothing inhibit their heedless growing.
Let them raise up on sturdy pasterns
and trot out in light summer rain
onto the long lazy unfenced fields
of heaven.

and then,  a portion of "The Confindantes":

Dorothy Harbison, aetat [aged] 91,
stumps into the barn on her cane and my arm,
invites the filly to nuzzle her face,
her neck and shoulders, her snowdrift hair
and would very likely be standing there
still to be nibbled, never enough
for either of them, so sternly lovestruck
except an impatient middle-aged daughter
waits to carry her mother off.

In Camden, Maine the liveryman
at the end of town, a floridly grand
entrepreneur, sends for Dorothy
whenever he has a prospect at hand.
She is nine or ten.  Given a knee
up she can ride any horse on the place.
If the deal goes through, a 50 cent piece
pops in her pocket, but Dorothy's pride
soars like a dirigible, its ropes untied.

It was all horses then, she says,
combing the filly's mane with her fingers,
soothing and kneading with practiced hands
from throatlatch to sensitve poll to withers.
All horses.  Heavenly.  You understand.

. . .

Leaving, Dorothy Harbison
speaks to the foal in a lilting croon:
I'll never wash again, I swear.
I'll keep the smell of you in my hair.
and stumps our fiercely young on her cane.


  1. Very nice--eyes as skittery as minnows--love it!

  2. These are great poems. It is so hard, sometimes, to try to explain to people who do not understand the deep bond we have with horses. These poems express it well....but even so, would an "outsider" ever really comprehend?

  3. Thank you for sharing these. They're beautiful.

  4. Your post reminds me of a few things I really love: Riding my horse while the hubs walks along side looking for mushrooms, Maxine Kumin, and growing old with horses.

  5. If I were given just one wish, I now know what it will be: To grow old with horses.


  6. Glad you had a nice ride out today. Two lovely poems. I sometimes wonder at what age I will have to stop riding. I'm hoping to be able to keep going for quite a while.

  7. Very nice. Betty and I face the same thing. We're 65 and Betty's horse is 11 and mine is 9.

    All we can do is take each day as it comes and live it to the fullest.


  8. Smokey and I will also find our golden years together.

    I aim to be like Dorothy, but *my* daughter will know better than to walk me out too quickly.

    Because the best of life is the moments you relish.

  9. I remember the first time I ever witnessed a foal entering the world. I was 12, and I was allowed to assist with the birth and aftercare (I still feel incredibly lucky for that opportunity). That poem captures the miracle of birth so perfectly. I've never seen anything so beautiful in my life since that birth, and a foal's first steps are a true miracle to behold. Thanks for sharing these poems! Both bring back warm memories for me.

  10. Beautiful poems and I'm glad to hear Pie is talking to you. Isn't it nice when they nicker and whinnie when you come into sight

  11. Thanks for sharing all three perfect images - you and Pie and husband walking and the two poems. Maizie and my mom both join me on the ground for walks while I ride and I do think that is fun too.
    The second poem really hit me hard - tears. You must really identify having a childhood past of riding a childhood past of riding any horse in the livery. "All horses. Heavenly. You understand." Wow. That means so much to me. "I'll keep the smell of you in my hair." Unbelievably choked up at that one.

  12. Fantastic poems - thank you very much!

  13. Well, the last poem brought the tears! And many childhood memories of the horses who understood.

  14. Just last summer I watched my mare give birth and even helped deliver her filly. It was an amazing time and I still remember the smell and feel of her, warm and wet and so soft.

    Yes, Yalla! and I will grow old together. I'll be in my seventies when she is in her twenties.


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