My Horse Body (version2)

My Horse Body
version 1 draft 2

My ears, soft, tall, all movement
and knowledge,
grew in first. I felt them
swiveling on my head,
attuned to sounds in all directions,
shuddering if a fly landed.

Then my tail—long, black, hairs of thin
steel cable. Then my mane, and with my mane
my muscled horse neck.

A few months after, eating
my Cheerios oats, my muzzle
appeared, causing me to lower my head
into my cereal box feed bag.
My mom could not fathom
an equine daughter,
could know me only
as an untamed thing.

Soon my horse eyes opened,
my new peripheral vision
giving me access to boundaries
my world wished to be blindered.

My horse body flailed, all awkward foal,
then gangly filly slowly
filling out to glistening chestnut mare.
I would have been a three-year-old,
primed for the Derby, when I was 12,
but it was 1975.
Ruffian was dead.
I gave up racing,
more crippled by my grief
than she had been by her courage.

My horse legs came back, muscle
and tendon, at 16, when I bought
my Trek. The bike was a horse,
I was a horse, two horses racing,
a pair of horses, harnessed
by toe clips.

I gave up the bike
for a boyfriend who needed
my constant attention,
and my horse body
grew wane, grew specter—
even the memory
of its mass, of my power
faded as shadowed as the Polaroid
of me at seven on a pony
for the first time.

What does strength do
if we forget we had it?
Where does desire live
when the body is boarded up?

How is the snow queen vanquished,
so water, the blood of the land,
runs again and sun warms muscles
back to movement?

A single gesture
can be enough. My lover’s hand,
held flat, finger first across my lips
then shoved hard into my mouth,
pulling my lips tightly back,
my tongue down—a bit,
of warm flesh, but still I tasted
cold iron and was again horse,
shaken by the speed
of the metamorphosis
by the ease of settling in
again to my four-legged body.

And now I’ve dyed
my gray hair bright chestnut.
When I feel skittish
I head-bump her, nip
her neck affectionately
with strong horse teeth.
When I feel hungry
to run, she mounts me
bare-back and we ride,
two women together,
a horse and a human, harnessed
by desire.

We ride until I am lathered
and winded, until she
leads me home
and rubs me down
and covers me with a blanket
woven with her initials
and I doze, standing,
until I am ready to consent
to again be human.

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