Sara Johnson


I. Thirty minutes

First, the horse falls to the ground
into a heap under the moon, glowing
like an egg. You would think
she was dead, but the breath
from her nose pushes the grass
back and forth, and droplets of milk
dot the ground around her stomach.
She doesn't hear you coming,
the sweat dripping down your brow --
you are a bag of shadows in the night.
This is your first time.

II. Five minutes

There is the waiting. You watch
the wet shore of skin expand and contract;
the sea foams around her mouth
and her eyelids open, like the placenta
as the foal pushes its front hooves
into the hot air. This is it:
you move through the dark
into the center, crossing your arms
by your chest. The crickets mirror
her breathing, but your lungs can't move
that fast.

III. One minute

The narrow head is smooth in coming,
and then the rest of the body glides out,
like a fish. The mother turns her neck
to see, and your heart is pounding
under you. You are supposed to leave
now, but there is no tide to pull you --
you are a rock at the bottom, still waiting
for the light, the opening.

Location: Ithaca, New York

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