Poetry  July 2012 | issue 439

Becoming A Horse

by Ross Gay

ROSS GAY is the author of the poetry volumes Against Which and Bringing the Shovel Down and is an associate professor of creative writing at Indiana University Bloomington. He also works with the Bloomington Community Orchard, which is volunteer run and publicly owned. He is currently writing a book about African American farming.

It was dragging my hands along its belly,
loosing the bit and wiping the spit
from its mouth that made me
a snatch of grass in the thing’s maw,
a fly tasting its ear. It was
touching my nose to his that made me know
the clover’s bloom, my wet eye to his that
made me know the long field’s secrets.
But it was putting my heart to the horse’s that made me know
the sorrow of horses. Made me
forsake my thumbs for the sheen of unshod hooves.
And in this way drop my torches.
And in this way drop my knives.
Feel the small song in my chest
swell and my coat glisten and twitch.
And my face grow long.
And these words cast off, at last,
for the slow honest tongue of horses.

 

 

 

 

Personal. Political. Provocative. Ad-free. Subscribe today.