PREPARING TO ACCEPT , from Lessons on Western Riding by pd lyons

(From: Lessons on Western Riding)

Crisp snow,
Sleeping village,
Almost daylight from the moon.
Thin smoke rising,
Unseen fires,
Some dogs
Heard the barn door slide.
Horses snort n nicker greetings
Inside a soft watt glow,
Seek out my bridle, saddle, and
That old Indian blanket from Mexico.

Shuddering saw dust she greets me
As if trying to erase that white blaze star n snip
From her otherwise pure liver-chestnut body.
As usual I give in, step back.
As usual I take a moment, rub her head n ears,
Lean my face against her, whisper terms of endearment
Breathe that deep sweet smotherly scent…

And find myself thinking of all the things we done together.
Not big things like times she’s broke my bones;
Waited out that all night colic;
Turned them panicked horses running away with that family from New York City, just before they made the highway.
But rather those un-thought little things,
Like how many times I groomed this horse,
Untangled mane and tail, picked feet, mixed feed,
Had her shod, filed her teeth,
Spent hours just watching her in the field,
And like I am right now, unable to sleep –
All these thoughtless motions of tacking up.

I warm the bit from my own breath
So the frozen metal won’t burn
This great beautiful creature of my heart,
Slightly she bends so I can slip the bridle on.

Down the aisle sounds, my boots heels
No match for borium studded shoes,
The click of her feet, stirs the last sleepy horses.
Each step increases their curiosity.
More whinny’s n snorts, some strike the stall doors some stomp the floor
And we both know that black gelding’s bass drum kick.

Each their own way of saying they want to go.
Each charging the air as if with electricity
As if you were watching wouldn’t you see steel blue sparks with every step crackling like spider webs? The mare and I, our connection wove with each step until muffled by snow in false dawn and moonlight, though every part is saying – go! She stands still for me.

And I swing up into that healing sensation of being whole again.
A moment to savour before she, as if in imitation of her birth, boldly yet some how gently arcs liquidly into motion.
This time we make for the west ridge,
Where for the past week, waking from a sound sleep,
A lone wolf I’ve seen from my window.
Sometimes just a glimpse. Sometimes lingering,
Head raised as if to test the air,
As if at any moment stillness shatters…
But there’s never been a sound
Only a drooping dark shape turning away.

And at the top foot prints? Signs? The creature, real or a dream…?
Sailing through winter swells we crest the ridge
Pause for a single rising sound, that for all its power
Refuses to become anything as trivial as an answer to such questions.

Steadily we zig zag down to the valley floor,
Search a spot of running water, drink.
Share the last two good apples of the year.
In the stillness I roll the first cigarette of the day,
Smoke doubled in the cold, drifts across like dancing spirits shrinking from the sun where just before the rising timber line the frozen river spreads its dare.



For: Katie, Jeanie, Mara, Jenny, Phyllis, The Bay, The Roan, Ali, Lance all my own true hearts.


a ruff bit from my ruff youth –

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