The Horses Run Back to Their Stalls

It’s another sorry tale about class in America, I’m sure
		you’re right,
	but you have to imagine how proud we were.

Your grandfather painted a banner that hung from Wascher’s
	to Dianis’s Grocery across the street: Reigh Count,

Kentucky Derby Winner, 1928.  
		And washtubs filled
	with French champagne. I was far too young

to be up at the stables myself, of course, it took 
		me years 
	to understand they must have meant in bottles 

in the washtubs, with ice.
		His racing colors
	were yellow and black, like the yellow

cabs, which is how Mr. Hertz first made the money
		that built
	the barns that bred the horses, bred at last this perfect

horse, our hundred and thirty seconds of flat out earth-
		borne bliss.
	They bought the Arlington Racetrack then and Jens

got a job that for once in his life allowed him to pay
		the mortgage
	and the doctors too, but he talked the loose way even

good men talk sometimes and old man Hertz
		was obliged
	to let him go. It was August when the cab strike in

Chicago got so ugly. Somebody must have tipped
 		them off,
	since we learned later on that the Count

and the trainer who slept in his stall had been moved
		to another
	barn. I’ll never forget the morning after: ash 

in the air all the way to town and the smell of those 
		 poor animals,
	who’d never harmed a soul. There’s a nursery

rhyme that goes like that, isn’t there? Never
		did us any
	harm. I think it’s about tormenting a cat.

From ­­­­Prodigal: New and Selected Poems, 1976 to 2014 (Mariner Books, 2015). Copyright © 2015 by Linda Gregerson. Used with permission of the author.