Two Horses in a Field in Mid-December

Lance Larsen

These strands of twisting wires keeping horses thereand me here is called a fence. Tears form and tearsfall from above and we call it rain. If it freezes,as it's trying to do now, we name it snow, even if sunflares from the east as it does in sparkly postcardsfrom Colorado. And this patch of dead grasshurtling through time and tomorrow is part of a bluesphere we call earth. We rarely send earth thank-you notes.It is easier to worry about spiced tea and poinsettiasand our cousin's accident and winter solsticeand a late mortgage payment and future orgasmsand where in the valley one can buy decent focaccia.My left hand is cold, my right hand colder,and I wonder how long can I lean on this fence watchingit snow? The wet stuff collects on the back of a whitehorse, a matching blanket. It falls too on the backof this black mare but immediately melts.This is how mystery and beauty collude, how weather,even the weakest trickle of sun, fills mewith questions. Tonight I will look at the sky and linkwinking stars into creatures and call it astronomy.And I'll look inside and see more broken creaturesand call it middle age, call it longing, call it whereare all the sweet rivers I used to swim? I'll talk to the darkI'm walking through and call it prayer. I'll chewon it, sing cracked psalms to it, even cough it out,and pretend it has no place in me. But that's for later.Right now, colors are streaming through this cameracalled the eye, starlings flicking and flirting, flappingand finessing. My hands are still cold, my breathvapor. I'm the only person leaning into this field,this story problem in stillness, one horse white,one black, a little snow, a little sun. How long will earthhold me in its tender mouth? I count backwardsfrom 100. An orange cat weasels by. Robinsscrap over a rosehip. I have no idea what I'm counting.

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Lance Larsen is the author of five poetry collections, most recently What the Body Knows (Tampa 2018). His poems have appeared in APR, Southern Review, The Times Literary Supplement, Ploughshares, Poetry, New York Review of Books, Best American Poetry 2009 and elsewhere. His awards include a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from Ragdale, Sewanee, The Anderson Center, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He teaches at BYU and likes to fool around with aphorisms: “When climbing a new mountain, wear old shoes.” In 2017 he completed a five-year appointment as Utah’s poet laureate.

Cover of Sewanee Review

Winter 2022

Sewanee, Tennessee

University of the South

Editor
Adam Ross

Managing Editor & Poetry Editor
Eric Smith

Assistant Editors
Hellen Wainaina
Jennie Vite

Founded in 1892 by the teacher and critic William Peterfield Trent, the Sewanee Review is the longest-running literary quarterly in America. The SR has published many of the twentieth century’s great writers, including T. S. Eliot, William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Wallace Stevens, Saul Bellow, Katherine Anne Porter, Marianne Moore, Seamus Heaney, Hannah Arendt, and Ezra Pound. The Review has a long tradition of cultivating emerging talent, from excerpts of Cormac McCarthy and Flannery O’Connor’s first novels to the early poetry of Robert Penn Warren, Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, and Christian Wiman. “Whatever the new literature turns out to be,” wrote editor Allen Tate in 1944, “ it will be the privilege of the Sewanee Review to print its share of it, to comment on it, and to try to understand it.” The mission remains unchanged.

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