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June the Horse


Sleep is water. I'm an old man surging
upriver on the back of my dream horse
that I haven't seen since I was ten.
We're night riders through cities, forests, fields.

I saw Stephanie standing on the steps of Pandora's Box
on Sheridan Square in 1957. She'd never spoken
to me but this time, as a horse lover, she waved.

I saw the sow bear and two cubs. She growled
at me in 1987 when I tried to leave the cabin while her cubs
were playing with my garbage cans. I needed a drink
but I didn't need this big girl on my ass.

We swam up the Neva in St. Petersburg in 1972
where a girl sat on the bank hugging a red icon
and Raskolnikov, pissed off and whining, spat on her feet.

On the Rhône in the Camargue fighting bulls
bellowed at us from a marsh and 10,000 flamingos
took flight for Africa.

This night-riding is the finest thing I do at age seventy-two.
On my birthday evening we'll return to the original
pasture where we met and where she emerged from the pond
draped in lily pads and a coat of green algae.
We were children together and I never expected her return.

One day as a brown boy I shot a wasp nest with bow and arrow,
releasing hell. I mounted her from a stump and without
reins or saddle we rode to a clear lake where the bottom
was covered with my dreams waiting to be born.
One day I'll ride her as a bone-clacking skeleton.
We'll ride to Veracruz and Barcelona, then up to Venus.


Jim Harrison

Songs of Unreason
Copper Canyon Press


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