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Girls Gathering Horses

Several years ago, I attended a writing workshop outside of Toronto. I don't remember where it was exactly, but the landscape was beautiful. It was a rural setting, surrounded by fields and forests. A summer equine camp used one of these fields, so every day, I got to watch the horses and riders that dotted the brilliant green hillsides, through thick morning fog as well as the golden light of dusk. These were magical scenes, moments that have stuck with me for years.

I had written down some observations at the time and eventually pulled them together into a poem. "Girls Gathering Horses" appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of Agave Magazine:


Girls Gathering Horses

There they are

On the hillside, on grass

In sunlight.

Girls in soft helmets and boots,

Leading chocolate and butterscotch horses

Over the lush, sloping ground.

Girls corral their horses.

They break them, brush them,

They shoe and lunge them.

They give them names like Chipper and Buddy.

There are girls who are angry

At their mothers.

They are rough with Buddy,

Push his round side against the fence rail

And leave his stall thick with manure.

There are girls who seldom visit.

They own all the books, they own plastic bins

Full of unused tack and scratchy blankets.

When they show up, they can’t control their horse.

They yank and shove and shout

And then stomp off,

Dreaming of becoming dancers instead.

The girls who are the best with horses

Appear from behind trees and slide like vapor

Into the worn leather.

They ride alone at dawn, in love

With the smell of Chipper’s mane.


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