Liver Chestnut, Flaxen Mane and Tail, Two White Socks, and a Pretty Body

Terry had the uncanny ability
to pick open locked stall doors
and hunt out the grain bin.

She was a Morgan, and versatile:
jumping, dressage, Western pleasure,
trail horse, show horse—I even

learned to stand up on her butt
while she cantered gently in circles
on the lunge line.

I slept in her stall,
read books under her hooves;
caught two foals as they slid from her body.

I was, at that time, a puncher of animals.
A hitter, a kicker, a girl violent
with self-hatred.

Walking the summer pasture,
Terry trailing behind in a new blue halter,
thick lead rope heavy in my hands;

my mare—true to her piggish disposition—
stalled out, reached down,
yanked up a last mouthful of grass.

Thoughtless rage jerked her head up, swung
the bitter end of the rope hard
into her left eye.

She reared,
stood trembling and blinking,
my beautiful horse.

I reached out to her.
She bowed her neck,
accepted my soft traitor hand.

I would like to say
I never hit an animal again,
but I did and it took

years to walk out
of that pasture,
put down the rope.