Watching Bjøg work with the horses

Hannah Green

 

I.
A girl that I have hardly met stands with a horse.

Hills rise and dusk drops behind,
The air pink, thick
She is tanned and blonde curls sun-kissed.
It is summer,
And the soft evening of a heat-scoured day.

 

About the horse,
Her hands smooth and whisper,
The bridle gently slipped,
And slowly–
The horse is dark and slick with unused strength.

 

II.
We have driven the horses down from the barn.
You have to be big, and like you know better,
So our shouts fill the valley -
Like we heard the stallion scream to the pregnant mares,

Five fields over with their bellies taut and gleaming,
And they screamed back for him.
Showed their teeth as we led him home,
Over the dark brook when the light fell and filled it all

With all that golden grace,
Grass thick with it,
Our eyes white with it,
Like prophets or first children,
So unaccustomed to this bigness of this beauty.

 

I felt my heart quicken at the size of him,
So close to me and living,
Like when the horses gallop down the steep slope and we stand above them

And their movement fills the whole valley with the beauty of themselves,

And the thud of hooves and the ripped-up clods and the muscles moving

Under muddied flank and knotted mane,
And the flies crawling on their eyes
Lift, for a moment, in the snatch of their speed.

 

III.
This is some kind of truth:
That smallest motion of the hand or arm
The body’s movement forwards, forceful,
Certain. So much implied in that sure-footed stance.

The horse responds with such deft lightness
All the pounds of muscle, bone, and more
Within, a tiny, tight-furled life in fluid,
Turning silently.

She motions with her hand, the black horse steps,

Once, again, as if between there was a hanging thread,

A skein of consciousness pulled taut just so,
And strength is the tarot card where the woman holds

The lion’s jaws with ease
As now she can command
The knowing, silk-haunched horse

The world reduced to this round pen

The rising mountains falling off
The sky upended and
All there is,
Is this:

The smallest motion of her hand,

The horse’s lifting feet.

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© Helicon Magazine 2019

University of Bristol