Galloping a wide arc up the sidewalk, a little girl slaps her hips to make the racket of hooves. It’s early winter and her winded mother, who is not a horse, finally catches up, apologizes for her daughter--
the child whinnying to a cantor up ahead. The mother explains that this equine display has haunted their every horseless day since her husband, the girl’s father, died with no warning. I think of November,
carrying my mother’s ashes into the funeral home-- I passed a group of mourners heading for their cars and wondered, what are they dressed up for? It had stopped existing for me, the grief of others.
No well like farewell. No deeper drink. The woman says her husband was not diseased, not very old. Nor was he known to ever feed, groom, or even speak in a calming voice to a horse. But he’s gone.
And his daughter, her mane unbraided, steps toward us, sniffing the air, one hoof forward, testing the grass, as if just back from the free-range skies of Montana, unsure of human company.
James Kimbrell has published three volumes of poetry The Gatehouse Heaven (1998), My Psychic (2006), and Smote (2015), and was co-translator of Three Poets of Modern Korea: Yi Sang, Hahm Dong-Seon, and Choi Young-Mi (2002), all with Sarabande Books. His work has appeared in magazines and publications such as Poetry, Ploughshares, Fence, and Best American Poetry, 2012. He been the recipient of the Discovery / The Nation Award, a Whiting Writer’s Award, the Ruth Lilly Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and, most recently, a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation. He currently resides in Tallahassee where he teaches in the English department at Florida State University.