Two More Poems…Actually Three

I read two more poems and had them videoed for April Anarchy. The first one was “Horse” by Louise Glück. Click here to watch the video. You’ll get a live view of Foxie and Smokey in the pasture.

The second poem was “Morning Swim” by Maxine Kumin, my horse-loving friend. Click here to view that video. Sorry, there’s no horses in that video, but I did have wet hair. 🙂

And for good measure…here’s a poem of my own, written a few weeks ago, before the horses came:

 

I Hear It In The Wind

 

A barn that has stood empty far too long

calls my name. I hear it as the wind fingers

new leaves and fescue rises green

in the pasture. I throw open

stall doors, sweep debris from the aisle

as my daughter brushes cobwebs

from oak boards. We dream together

of horses trotting in from the field,

forelocks flung across wide blazes,

ears pricked in our direction.

I feel new life in my fifty-four-year-old

bones this spring. She is ready

to toss her mane against a crystal blue sky,

prance with joy.

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The barn, before the horses arrived.

 


Where Horses and Poetry Intersect

I mentioned in a previous post that a friend of mine asked me to video myself reading a poem written by Maxine Kumin, who was a wonderful poet and horse enthusiast, for April Anarchy, a fun Facebook event designed to introduce people to all kinds of poetry during the National Poetry Month. Here’s a glimpse of the bracket:

Upon hearing that we had horses back in our barn, my friend, Suzanne Baldwin Leitner, asked if I would like to read a couple of other horse-themed poems. For fun, I asked my daughter to actually video these poems at the barn. I thought I’d share these videos on the blog as I just love it when my passions collide!

To view a reading at the barn of “The Ride” by Richard Wilbur, click on the title of the poem.

April Anarchy is just beginning, so if you’d like to get in on the fun, look for Suzanne Baldwin Leitner’s Facebook page or click here. You’ll find videos of all the poems in the bracket. The first round has just started, so vote for your favorite poems.

I’ll post my other readings as the April Anarchy Poetry Tournament continues!

 

 


Bends in the Road

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Yesterday morning, I had no idea how I would find a companion pony for the horse we are bringing to our farm for Sydney. But I had the sense that I needn’t worry, there was a plan, even if I wasn’t privy to it. I thought it might come through the lovely women at Race2Ring, a rescue operation for horses coming off the track and other horses in need. And, indeed, I had an email from Erica that morning that made me hopeful. And I received a phone call from Tracy, the director, that afternoon. It was a blessing to connect with these women who care so deeply about horses and people and to know they had been working so hard on my behalf to find a suitable companion for Foxie.

But it wasn’t to be. At least, not this time. Still, I felt a sense of peace. I figured it must be time for me to reach out to some of my other contacts in the horse world, although I doubted I would have much success since the lines of communication had grown dim with so little contact over the past decade.

Then I remembered a post I had seen late the night before on an Equestrian site. It was about a Shetland pony who was for sale and lived on a nearby farm. The price was cheap. But I knew I didn’t want to buy another horse at this time. I looked up the owner’s Facebook account to see if I might learn something that would propel me in one direction or another. To my surprise, she and I had a friend –Helen– in common. What was amazing to me was that this friend was not a horse person, but a former homeschool mom and a writer. Helen also happened to be someone my friend Karen knows well.

One of my concerns, as I have been moving back into the horse world, has been how will I ever have the time for both horses and writing. A couple of weeks ago I had initiated a call for writers who were interested in gathering together in critique groups. A part of me wondered why it was that at THIS particular time, when I was starting something new with horses, that I felt the nudge to reach out to other writers. In the past, I might have talked myself out of one thing or another, convincing myself I only had time for one new initiative. But, for whatever reason, I trusted this nudge, and simply allowed the experience to unfold.

Helen was one of the writers who answered the call for the critique group, and I could tell during that first meeting she was someone I wanted to get to know better. The week before Easter, my friend Karen invited a group of moms and kids to her house for their annual Easter egg hunt. Sydney and I had attended Karen and LK’s egg hunt many times. But this year, I was delighted to discover that Helen and her daughter were there. Helen and I talked as we hid eggs, sharing bits of our lives and our writing. I felt an immediate connection with her.

The horse world, like every pocket of the population, has its share of unseemly characters looking to make a quick buck, so I often approach transactions with a bit of wariness. But when I saw that the Shetland pony’s owner was a Facebook friend with Helen, I thought she must be a nice person. And that is exactly what the Shetland pony’s owner typed to me in her message when I told her we had this friend in common.

I asked the Shetland pony’s owner if she would consider a month’s lease, and she responded enthusiastically: “Absolutely!” I asked about the pony’s manners and what she would charge for the lease.  She said he had good manners and there would be “no charge.”

No charge! I could hardly believe it. Not only did this pony sound like a sweetheart, someone who our family would quickly fall in love with, he was an easy keeper and had come from a home where he had been well cared for and loved for seven years. And we could pick him up on Friday!

The fact that God provided a connection to this Shetland pony through a new writer friend reminds me not to give into my fears, but to trust that He cares deeply for my concerns and passions.

Interestingly, at the same time that I was communicating with the Shetland pony’s owner, a writer friend, Suzanne, who is creating an April Anarchy bracket (similar to March Madness, but filled with poems instead of basketball teams) in honor of National Poetry Month messaged me: Would I consider videotaping myself reading a poem written by one of my favorite poets, Maxine Kumin, and posting it on YouTube? I was happy to do it and honored to be asked. A Pulitzer Prize winning writer, Maxine had also been a friend and fellow horsewoman, someone who loved animals, nature and farm living as I do. Over the years, she had often encouraged me to get a horse for Sydney and get back to riding.

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 Maxine and I with one of her horses on her New Hampshire farm.

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Me with Sydney, Maxine and Victor (Maxine’s husband)

Last night, I took a walk at sunset and allowed the confluence of these events to penetrate me. I continue to be astounded. The stamp of poetry and writing have appeared throughout my transition into the horse world. Even this blog (that Sydney helped me create several years ago, but I’d yet to post anything on) suddenly sprang to life as I contemplated the rising tide of joy that washed over me when I considered what it would be like to share the experience of having horses with my daughter. And I thought to myself, I must collect these moments, frame them with words and remind myself to see and appreciate the beauty of this narrative flowing through my life.

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Crimson

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Photo of Crimson and me, circa 1998

 

I can’t talk about the barn without introducing you to Crimson. He was “my boy” — a sweet thoroughbred, Quarter Horse cross. A grandson of Secretariat, he came to me after his years on the track. He was an amazing horse — calm enough to put anyone on him, yet willing to do whatever I asked. He performed beautifully in the hunter/jumper ring, then as he got older transitioned into an elegant dressage horse. But it was his easygoing personality that made him so lovable. It was wonderful having him on the farm, and a piece of me will always miss him.

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I wrote this poem about Crimson several year ago, during the time my mother first became ill with Alzheimer’s. Crimson helped me get through those difficult years.

Every Day

I have come to be with my horse,
to this place behind the barn
where the dirt is dry and pocked
with prints of hooves.

He stands resting one hind leg,
then the other, tail skimming
the ground. His haunches slope
with the curve of the hill.
We are both waiting.

A sparrow twitters
and Crimson’s stomach rumbles
from an afternoon of grass and wandering.
He is the patient one.

I need to know earth will resolve
day into dark and dark into day,
that clouds will shift to reveal
something bright, that rain
will quench the grass, color it green.

My horse grazes within his black fence,
waits for grain to arrive twice a day,
his water trough to be filled.
Every day he lifts his head
as I come down the hill.

(This poem first appeared in They Wrote Us A Poem, V, published by Duke University Medical Center.)

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Crimson grazing with a pasture buddy.