Looking for wild horses in the west
desert, I found a spring instead.
Fresh water babble rising over menacing
desolation. The only sign of humans:
gnarled wire and the sagging fenceposts of an
abandoned pasture. Years ago,
my sisters and I saw a badger here.
Horned larks fuss as my dog lopes
through yellowed sage. Distant boom. Hunting season.
If my daughters answer at all, they say yes, no.
I told the man he had been careless with my heart.
He told me he thinks of me all the time.
It is not the same thing.
My thirst for solitude,
gorgeous despair and the vast emptiness
of blue, blue, blue, over browns.
Some small sound that I think
might be a hoof, the beginning of a herd —
a stone shifting under the roots of dried thistle.
Deep chill warmed by late October sun.
I eat hard-boiled eggs, salted and peppered,
wash them down with water.
I came here to see the musculature of untamed instinct:
a mare nuzzle a wobbly foal
a stallion herd the slowest straggler
a band of dun and bay, black and white.
I wanted, perhaps, the clamor of family.
Or some echo of it.
Natural order demonstrated
in feral whinnies. An understanding
that survival depended on staying together.
Instead, this strange trickle in the arid
landscape, the stubborn greening of watercress
amidst rusted pipes and bullet casings.
Published in Hubbub, Volume 33, 2019