This poem imagines an interaction between my mom and I on the road just down from my rural home. Written at a time when I knew something was not quite right with mom, but didn’t yet know what it was, this poem is a prophecy.
The Moment in Which I Love Her
The pale horse leans across the fence
and breathes her in, trusts muzzle to gentle hands.
She says, you are beautiful, you are so beautiful,
yes, you are. The palomino is not perplexed by
repetition. Intonation matters more than words.
The horse looks at my mother and I see her
reflected in an eye as large as grace. I want
to remember this: gravity is pinecones falling
in the far field, and the years I’ve spent seeking
her approval. Good is carrots he knows
we hide in our pockets. Good is here. I think
he likes me my mother says,
he is so beautiful. My mother tells a story,
a back-on-the-farm story with chickens, cousins,
best of days. In a little while she will ask
where we are, whose horse this is. She will
ask once more on the walk back home. Our dog
will greet her at the door. My mother will say
what a good dog, what a good dog, she is
such a good dog. What kind of dog is this?
My mother does not say that I am good
or I am beautiful. Her intermittent light
spills on bluejays, grade school friends, that time
they rode the cow. For supper, I prepare
a meal she used to make from scratch. Tonight,
she can’t remember tasting it before. Her face falls
when I forget and say otherwise.
This poem is published in the Wine Country Writers Festival Writing Contest Winners Anthology: celebrating First Place in poetry, Sept. 2022 (print)