I'm driving the long way home.
Meandering along a backroad meadow
where I've stalled to breathe
and watch the horses play.
Let their blood and flesh, grazing
knee-deep in fireworks of wildflowers,
Why do I say "play"?
Horses I've known up close
shudder and twitch with nervous alert.
fenced to boredom, plagued
with flies, thistles, and thirst.
And yet they do play.
They step toward me
shyly, as if to welcome me.
As if to ask what news I might bring.
And I answer by stroking their necks.
Resting a hand in the softness
just above the nostrils.
Where they inhale my gratitude.
And graciously stand with me.
As if to confirm the world's possibilities.
Foremost of which, despite our separate hardships,
is the goodness of this day.
-published in "Miamar Poetry Journal"
Soaking in the hot-tub, almost noon
(having risen leisurely), sipping rich coffee
. . . and talking about raising chickens
come spring. Good for the hens,
to graze for bugs and seeds in our meadow.
All those chicken droppings, good
for the soil. Eggs enough to share
with neighbors. Good to be
natural, wholesome, basic.
We could construct a hen house
on wheels, secure it in the garage at night,
every morning pull it with the riding mower
to grounds nearby our windows -
to keep an eye out for marauding coyotes.
And weasels, and hawks, and eagles.
We could heat the garage in snow time
with a woodstove and cut cordwood
from woodlots up the mountainside.
But, she said, I wouldn't want to butcher them,
would you? A stinky mess, boiling a caldron
to dip the birds and strip 'em. And . . .
chopping off their heads, she added, . . . it's cruel.
That could be my job, I said. And shuddered.
Guess we could take tums getting up early,
I proposed. How early? she said.
We soaked more and finished our coffees.
Shop-Rite sells fryers for three or four bucks,
she said. How much are eggs? I asked.
Two-twenty a dozen, she said.
Dollar seventy-nine, on sale.
-published in "Concho River Review"