I was looking for an animal, calf or lamb,
in the wire, metal and hair along the fence line.
Wire, metal and hair and there, in the gully, a man
I was pretending was dead. I pretended
to leave him where the woods met the meadow,
walking fast because I’d left my horse lashed
to a fence I lost track of two valleys
ago. Like a horse, I shied from the dead.
Here, calf. Here, lamb. I listened, wanting
(without my horse, my calf or lamb) to be
whipsmart rather than wanted. I wore orange
on antelope season’s first afternoon
and waited for the click that means the safety is
off. When I spoke, my story was about picking
skulls clean. I wanted everything to be
afraid of me, the horseless girl who wanted
to kill a dead man again. The white bed
with a window behind its headboard became
ice on the meadow road and a tree to stop
a truck dead. I meant to trace my boot steps
back to the fence where things went wrong,
find my horse mouthing the bit, tied up by her
reins. I looked for the horse because she looked
safe enough to love. I looked for the calf
or lamb because there was no calf or lamb.
The man left before I could leave him, and I pretended
the world was afraid of me because I was alone.
Copyright © 2008 by Cecily Parks. “I Lost My Horse” originally appeared in Field Folly Snow (University of Georgia Press, 2008). Used with permission of the author.