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Huntington Meadow


Though I come from a long line of people intimate
With the bodies of horses,
Today, for the first time, I touched a horse.
I placed my hand on its left flank, just behind the shoulder.
The horse was standing beside me, eating grass.

I'm speaking here of things that come to feel essential
Though they happen at one moment in time.
You've never done it, then you've done it before, you're good at it.
You can't imagine your body without it.

Tanqueray up with an olive,
Nobody home, the brine
Still unexpected at the bottom of the glass.

When I touched the horse, I didn't move my hand.
The hide more skin than hair,
The muscle beneath it visceral, relaxed,
More like a lover's than a dog's.

Then, after I took my hand away, I immediately put it back.
The horse seemed all the while
Perfectly happy, ripping up grass at the roots.

That was the only sound, the sound
You hear when you're gardening, weeding the lawn,
Somebody right there beside you, also weeding,
Though because you lack nothing
You're also completely alone.


James Longenbach

Earthling
W. W. Norton


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