Stirring : A Literary Collection

Cleopatra Mathis


In those days, she woke only
to reach the stable, the saddle.
Broken racehorse, tethered to his own hell,
he was the only one she'd ride.
She had him tamed on the lunge line
in the indoor ring, where he trusted
the calm circle around her, fixed on course.
That frozen afternoon, who knows what crack
he heard when she dropped the line?
Maybe her body scrambling to retrieve it
jogged his stubborn terror and turned him
crashing through the corridor of closed doors,
splintering each gate, the attached line
flying like a whip at his head, all the way
into the snow, where she followed
his twisting bloody trail. Three icy hours
the mercury dropped, the vet sewed,
steam rising from open flesh, the gaping
shoulder and neck, while in the horse's ear
she whispered him back -- mother then
to his misery, rescued and changed.

From "What to Tip the Boatman?"
(Sheep Meadow Press)

Date of Birth: 8/16/47
Location: Hanover, New Hampshire
Publications: Poetry, The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, TriQuarterly, The Yale Review, American Poetry Review, The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Stirring V2:E6, and many anthologies and textbooks
Awards: National Endowment for the Arts grant, the Peter Lavin Award from the Academy of Am. Poets, a fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass., and the Robert Frost Award

Stirring : A Literary Collection

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