Night Mare
by Mitchell Metz

To callous ranch hands she's no more
than trail fodder, but that little old mare
carried my daughter like my daughter
aughta be carried up her first mountain.

Slimflanked, straightbacked, proudnecked,
she picked her way pretty among boulders,
rocked tender under clumsy suddenshifts

of a saddlesore novice; stopped to nuzzle
paintbrush, columbine, cinquefoil as if girl
were foal and beauty requisite equine lore.

Now, as Emma sleeps under motheaten canvas,
I swig whiskey peppered with sage's scent,
watch the embers glow, and wrestle futures
from a rustler's moon.

Across the meadow, steaming in silhouette,
our little old mare bares teeth, splaybraces,
opens her swollen hole for every stallion
in the corral, screams beastbliss down
the canyon. Tomorrow my girl rides her
off the mountain.

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