Gardener at Heart - Book Two

At The Dufur Threshing Bee


Two giant horses stand here quietly;

They make a couplet with a lovely rhyme,

Both golden as the stubble underhoof,

With manes and tails vanilla, while their man

As patiently explains to all the folks

Some things about his mares, who wear their gear

Like strong men wearing tank tops in the heat.

Their shapes are such a pleasure to the eye:

Their backs are hilltops tall against the hills;

Their sides are outlined in calligraphy;

Their haunches are French horns that play baroque;

Their legs are straight from Leonardo’s dreams;

Their hooves are dictionaries (unabridged).

Ten daddies could hold up ten little girls 

To brush and brush and brush and brush their manes.

Their man says, yes, sure, we can pet them some.

How warm and firm they are, how very big.

Up close they’ve got a strong warm horsey smell.

This one we’re petting doesn’t seem to mind.

My hand’s a handkerchief impelled to fly

Straight to the big warm fuzzy sock of her nose,

Electric from the dryer, whisker-rayed,

A snowy scrap of flannel stuck to the toe.

Her nostrils flare, her breath puffs on my hand—

And suddenly she snorts—my hand jerks back—

A toddler, lifted up to pat her neck,

Is now convinced that there be dragons here—

And now’s their turn to plow. Stand back a bit.

Their man, the gathered reins in his gloved hand,

Now clambers up to his small metal seat,

Calls, “Lady! Sunny! Step up!” And they do.

They know their names as well as we know ours.

Behind, the earth unzips its sleeping bag

And looks around, turns over with a thump,

Tucks in its head and settles back to sleep.

Ahead, that tall white mare beyond the hills

Looks out to see them shouldering their work,

Reciting sonnets as they go along.

I look real hard, then quickly close my eyes

To capture one bright picture from this time

When two big horses make a lovely rhyme.


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