You pointed out a spot along the fence in the pasture and
recounted how you once snuck up behind a coyote and
just to see if you could, roped him, deftly
snuck the expert loop of your lasso around his neck.

(After, you had to bash his head in with a rotten
post to retrieve your rope. Guilt,
who often accompanied us on these stories,
trailed even closer that day.)

You told me about a storm, how it came upon
you as the coyote might have overtaken a distracted mourning
dove, quiet, quiet, quietly
until the acidic smell and green sky of hail was
inescapable. You dismounted, unsaddled, and hunched
under the leather, protected your head from launching
ice. Bare, sweaty back of your horse left vulnerable to the whims
of frigid updrafts. It’s a wonder he didn’t
wheel, pull away on the reins you undoubtably would
have sacrificed.
It’s a wonder what they sacrifice for us.

Sarah told me horses are carriers, bearing
essence from one plane to another.
To which worlds am I transported when I crawl on your back?
Am I the same when I return?
Do we return to the same place?

Martín told me that he knows which animal
will greet him at the celestial river, guide
him across into eternity:
Tiger, dog as close as brother.
The dog he bore home in eight-year-old arms
after finding his body, wrecked by some poison. He
told me how heavy Tiger became
on the pilgrimage, but he
couldn’t give up. I know he’ll
be waiting for me.

I had never heard of this divine animal assistance.
But upon consideration,
I’m certain a team of horses gathers me into Heaven.

Image credit:Bethany Legg

Current Hoosier. Master's student/Associate Instructor at IUB: Latin American and Caribbean Studies.  When I’m not riding race horses, I am studying Neruda and Marquez, Hemingway and Steinbeck. My heart for reading and writing poetry lies in the intersection of language, culture, and politics.