Farm Summer

The Talking Stick, 2017

horseThe day we mounted the horse–

—Princess—

a tall and haunchy female,

I clung to your waist,

my own powerful female,

as princess carried us

down the hill and into the pasture

to claim the cattle for milking.

She plunged into the shallow creek

and sank her fine-spun legs

deep in mud. Deep

in mud. My heart fluttered in fear

as the horse bucked and pulled.

Princess heaved herself, and us, free,

and we galloped up the hill

calling Come boss,

come boss. The reins lain lightly

against the agile neck

turned the horse left and right

through bristled pines

and the cattle lowed and turned,

slowly as flowers closing for the night,

lumbered toward the barn

where my uncle would lean his head

against each hot haunch in turn

and pull the milk, frothing white,

into pail after pail.