One morning last summer I came up out of Crossfire carrying two objects I wasn’t carrying when I entered the canyon. The first was a fully intact turkey tail feather that I plucked from the trail. As I admired it, I noticed an oily sheen on the dark-brown barbs near the feather’s tip. I stopped in the shade of an oak tree and raised the feather into a shaft of light filtering through the leaves. When the sunlight struck the feather, chevrons of rainbow colors appeared in the vane, very rich and vibrant in hue €”a bit peacock-esque. Who would have thought a turkey could produce such a gem?
The feather was a natural object, shed by a canyon resident. My second found object was in a way the feather’s counterpoint: a container of commercially produced bottled water, over three-quarters full, dropped along a steep part of the illegal ATV trail that has caused such a ruckus in these parts. Continue reading “Embrace the pure life, part one”
Brown-eyed boy tosses his black head,
Pokes his nose through the corral bars
Sniffing, searching for the apple slice
He knows, he knows I hide behind me.
I laugh, he bobs his head, steps close,
Knickers softly, lowers his head near my face.
He loves me for the apple he smells,
Its dappled red and yellow skin
Hints at dusty summer noons,
Evokes grass cool and wet at dawn.
I relent and offer the fruit in my open palm.
He gobbles it in loud, happy crunches €”
Now he loves me even more.
I lean against the corral.
He snorts, puts his head against mine.
A bay yearling bugles a greeting,
Runs across the field to nuzzle an appaloosa.
Brown-eyed boy twitches his ears, knickers to the others.
In the slanted light of sunset, the hairs on his black neck
Gleam iridescent with blue, purple and green.
Warm blood, muscle and bone hold us both here,
But he is sinewed to the earth in ways I am not.
Are his thoughts images wrapped with sharp smells and taste?
What feelings thunder in his chest
When he pounds across a field?
I don’t know how his animal mind works,
But here in the dusty stable yard, in the warm sun
On the September cusp of Indian summer,
His breath, sweet with hay and apple, fans across my neck,
His huge face rests on my shoulder €”
We stand wordless and content.
For Cara’s bio, go here (scroll to end).
In Horse Opera, I told how a silver dun (also called grulla) mare helped protect and nurture a colt born this spring to another mare in my neighbor’s small herd. As I witnessed the social dynamics of the herd shift with the colt’s arrival, the grulla emerged to my awareness as an intelligent, loyal, and brave soul, frequently placing herself between the foal and his aggressive yellow dun father, at times driving the stallion out of the herd to stop his bullying the mare-foal pair. The grulla helped raise the baby, forming such a close bond with him that my youngest daughter took to calling her €œNanny Horse. € Continue reading “Horse Opera, Pt. Two”
Swallows fly low and fast
Singing of nests in the arena’s rafters.
Heat radiates through wood and sand
Melodius with the voices of young girls,
Odorous with warm sweat of horses,
Pungent with fresh manure,
Sweet from hay growing in the field.
The mare and the girl work hard
Learning to dance together,
To understand a tug of the rein,
The lean of a body, the weight of a foot.
Dust rises where they turn, jump, and lope
This creature comprised of two–
My daughter, barely eighty pounds,
And the chestnut mare over a thousand.
My daughter’s face is flushed with heat and concentration;
The mare is sleek with sweat, but she hates to stop.
She is one with the girl who loves to run.
They both yearn to move through space
Soaring over hurdles. Maybe this is what makes
Them love each other so. When the lesson ends
The mare stands, eyes half closed as the girl
Brushes over tired muscles, soothes out tangled mane and tail.
The horse nudges her face against the girl.
Unbidden, she plods quietly behind the girl,
Content to follow her back to the corral.
Neither seems to want to leave the other.
Out in the paddock, maple trees shiver
In a cool wind easing down the canyon.
The mare comes close to stand by the girl,
Nudges her again. My daughter wraps her arms
Around the mare’s neck, buries her face
In that solid living warmth. The trees lean
Into the radiance of that quiet embrace.
I call to my girl, have the sense to let the two
Linger in that fast embrace.
I understand that love, that loathing to part.
My girl finally comes to me. In the sun,
The chestnut mare watches, her brown eyes
Warm as heated summer earth.
Cara Bullinger O’Sullivan is a BYU English department graduate who has worked as a magazine editor, technical writer, and IT systems auditor. She lives in Utah with her husband, two children and 2 dogs. In her spare time she enjoys pursuing various creative writing projects with unknown destinations.