Monday, May 29, 2006

Tonight, I am thinking of horses

When I was a little girl, my mother fell in love with a cowboy. He was the real deal: he wore cowboy boots and Stetson hats and belt buckles the size of hubcaps. On the weekends, we would go to rodeos and watch him scream around the ring on the back of a blue roan.

He lived on a ranch not far from our house. At any one time, there would be a hundred or more horses and ponies of all kinds treading through the fields. Some of them went to horse shows, some to rodeos. Some were for trail rides and others were strictly for breeding. The ponies went to carnivals and fairs, where they walked in endless circles, giving rides to children. All of them had a purpose, a job to do.

Sometimes, my mother would take me to see them. I remember the chorus of soft neighing that greeted me each time I entered the barn. The soft swishing of tails, the heavy thud of their hooves as they shifted their weight. I remember their soft velvet muzzles and the stiff bristles of hair that tickled my palm when I laid it flat to offer them a treat. Their smell, a sweet, heavy mixture of sweat and fresh hay, that left me feeling drunk.

I loved these horses, even the ones who shied away from me, sniffing me cautiously and then exhaling roughly. I loved the way their ears pricked up or laid flat, depending on their mood. I loved the muscular beauty of their jaws, working over a bite of grain, the flat wide teeth that looked harmless but could hurt if they nipped. The dark eyes framed by a fringe of lashes, the deep V of muscle where their forelegs joined their chest.

When I was 11, she finally moved in with him for good. I remember watching the road from my bedroom window, waiting for her to come back to me. Instead, she took me there, to the horses, and to him. There was a price to pay for her company, although I didn't know it then.

When I think of these horses now, I don't think of what came later, of what they came to represent. What I remember most is watching them play after they'd done their service for the day. Running, kicking, rolling in the red clay until it clung to them like a second coat. They were always so happy to be free, in their own small way. When I think of them, I think of this: their pure, unshakable joy and I know that somewhere, it's waiting for me too.


Blogger Justin Evans said...

This is the kind of thing you should develop into an essay. It has everything you need to get started.

If you were to say, tell the whole story like this in 3-5000 words, you would really have something. This blog has the potential to be something really wonderful as a longer piece.

It already is a great blog entry, now you simply need to take it to a higer level.

5/30/2006 7:11 AM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Justin, I hadn't thought of that. It started out as a poem but then I just started writing all this other crap. Thanks for the advice.

5/30/2006 10:23 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

two things: this was a wonderfully evocative piece of writing and it makes me want to delve deeper and know more... and 2: "but then i just started writing all this other crap" - NOT crap - own your words, they are yours and they are beautiful...

5/30/2006 2:03 PM  
Anonymous Ella said...

I agree with Justin - great stuff - but now I want to know what happened to you after that.

Love that last paragraph.

5/30/2006 6:19 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Ah, see, I'm still working that part out.

5/30/2006 6:22 PM  

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