At the fence line, I was about to call him in when, at two-thirds profile, head down and away from me, he fell first to his left front knee and then the right, and he was down, dead before he hit the... My father saw him drop, too, and a neighbor, who walked over. He was a good horse, old, foundered, eating grass during the day and his oats and hay at night. He didn't mind or try to boss the cows with which he shared these acres. My father said: "Happens." Our neighbor walked back to his place and was soon grinding towards us with his new backhoe, of which he was proud but so far only used to dig two sump holes. It was the knacker we'd usually call to haul away a cow. A horse, a good horse, you buried where he, or she, fell. Our neighbor cut a trench beside the horse and we pushed him in. I'd already said goodbye before I closed his eyes. Our neighbor returned the dirt. In it, there were stones, stones never, never seen before by a human's, nor even a worm's, eye. Malcolm, our neighbor's name, returned the dirt from where it came and, with the back of a shovel, we tamped it down as best we could. One dumb cow stood by. It was a Friday, I remember, for supper we ate hot dogs, with beans on buttered white bread, every Friday, hot dogs and beans.
Copyright © 2010 by Thomas Lux. Used with permission of the author.
Thomas Lux is the author of several books of poetry, including To the Left of Time (Mariner Books, 2016) and New and Selected Poems, 1975-1995 (Houghton Mifflin, 1997).
Date Published: 2010-10-22
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/dead-horse