Long ago at age eleven – maybe we were ten
We clomped to the barn – our souls hand-in-hand.
Too-big, borrowed boots flopped in rubbery smacks.
Hay above and hay below and hay just out of muzzle reach
With stiffly smell like snapping grass. We sucked rugged,
Black licorice with a kick like gin in old movies.
Over paddy, shaven wood, we stealthily snatched the beast.
We tied him up and wet him down slathering swaths of soap.
In the mane and down the back, her expert fingers played.
Swirling currycomb patterns across his golden skin,
Suds splashed our giggling cheeks. We spat the stickily sweet
Mane ‘N Tail into the draining dirt.
She taught me how
To spit, to cluck, to groom, to post, to buckle, to mount.
We played with his dripping, soaked-wire tail
Too long, too far, too deep.
His leg muscle rippled with tension.
If he could talk, he’d have sworn.
I swear my short life flashed.
The angled knee calculated for my gut.
She pushed me to the side.
That spit-fire, half-pint spanked him hard
and roared with parental authority,
And saved my life that day.