Thursday, January 13, 2011

Where a Horse Can Lead You (Poem)

Where a Horse Can Lead You

    Where are you going?
        I don't know! Ask the horse!


Harness hemming in massive muscle, the Clydesdale
tugs plow and farmer, his lead gentle, a bounty

bearing weight, knowing to keep strength within
bounds, knowing how to stop when hands let up

the reins to survey furrows of work laid bare both
on field and sweaty brows. The pair, still tethered —

as both will be roped one to the other till one
or the other passes on — heads up to the barn

just as the afternoon's light cracks off
at a distant head of pines, no need for more

than silence to hold them to their habit of pulling together.


Sleek and machined for speed, the racehorse takes
breaching knees digging into brick-solid shoulders,

the whip's flash against straining neck, next flipped
expertly to pure-bred haunches, the back and forth

rhythm for a hundred gold cups the goad, blinders
still on, the only goal now straight ahead to the finish

line. Running in circles, this hierarchy of man
pushing endurance of beast, crowds the fence,

flared nostrils sputtering, the one on top catapulting
to dirt and a tangle of legs splaying, the energy of

being lead dragging in a scuffle of dust, all bets off.

© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas

I wrote this poem in response to the Random Acts of Poetry prompt at The High Calling. The prompt is to write a poem representative of "gentle leadership" in the face of struggle.

A selection of posts will be featured at The High Calling on Friday.


Louise Gallagher said...

"no need for more

than silence to hold them to their habit of pulling together."

Really good.


hedgewitch said...

An interesting and well developed exploration of themes, with some lovely language as a bonus. Always something good for the soul posted here.

S. Etole said...

"being lead dragging" ...

isn't that often the way?!

Anonymous said...

Incredible writing, in both views the strength/beauty of this wonderful animal pushed to the limits...
In one sense I understand the position of humankind,
then on the other I see the struggle to proceed via the animal...what they must feel as well...such an interesting concept in writing, your words captured all.

Laura said...

I loved this:

than silence to hold them to their habit of pulling together.

Seemed to speak of the stuff of life so clearly.

Beautiful, as always, Maureen!

Ruth said...

I like how you have juxtaposed these two in the hierarchy of man very much.

It's so great to meet you, and to share this love of poems, and writing them. Connected by so many things, including Neruda. All the best as you venture forward, with the book, and everything!

Deborah Barlow said...

Maureen, wonderful poem. So good I had to post the link on my site.

Deborah Barlow said...

Maureen, I loved this poem. So much so I had to post the link on my site. Well done.

Marcus Goodyear said...

You always amaze me, Maureen. There are so many things to like here, but I think my favorite is the contrasting final lines of the two sections.

SimplyDarlene said...

Ah, I loved the last line the best. I don't know how you work the words into such realness and beauty.


* said...

The beginning sets the stage nicely,

"Where are you going?
I don't know! Ask the horse!" followed by what I can only explain an ode to horses and their beauty, strength, speed, as noted by someone who knows. Well done!