"This Horse"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
June 4 2013 8:15 AM

"This Horse"

130603_POEM_ThisHorse

Image courtesy of Monica Nydam

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Rebekah Stout read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.

I've let him out to graze in the diminishing light.
He trots ahead, knows
where to go. He's leading me to the grass edged
with pink, dew-struck, the dark growing up slowly like another
edible species. He trusts his lips
to part the blades, to find what's delicate—his tongue
will do the rest. I've seen him
dividing the good bits from the chaff, his tongue dividing
and dividing until it seems
that he lives on nothing, so much chaff
falling from his lips.

Not long ago, this horse fit in the palm
of my hand. Life was losing him
then finding him again under a teacup, or mired
in radiator dust; he was always sick
until we found this pasture that grows
by the acre. This horse
grows even faster.
Soon we’ll have to move again, despite the grass
that reaches almost
to my chin.

His belly sways far above me; I watch the sun
set between his hocks as he tears mouthful
after mouthful of grass. My horse has outgrown me.
I pull out my fiddle to try to tell him so
but it's brittle from all this travel, the bow is stripped
and won't sound.

“Imagine your hand is as big as a house,” he calls down to me,
“and feed me an apple.”

-for Ricardo

Rebekah Stout is the assistant poetry editor at Slate and a lecturer in poetry at Boston University. She is the winner of the 2009 Poetry International Prize.