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Turning

Horses (and most mammals), unlike us,
walk on tiptoe, perhaps because they are
in closer touch with naked earth and know
that walking is a delicate balancing act
on this surface as alive, as undulant,
as shifting as water.

Here muddy ground rolls and dips
in mounds as animated as the muscles
moving in the horse's chest. The man
is concerned with guiding the horse.
Earth, to him, is solid, safe stuff,
at least on this side of the white fence.

He is off the ground now, feet
perilously dangling in stirrups.
His earth, now, is four white pillars--
actually three this instant, but see

how firmly they fix themselves
to the earth, with what precision
hooves hold up each leg, each
exactly stressed thigh, to support
the cylindrical torso upon which
sways the man above his station
on earth.

These are the artifices of solidity.
The background leaves, filled with light
and lightness, the horse's tail,
these dispense with solidity,
fearing no fall.

The tail wafts out upon the air,
mocking man's seriousness with its
unsupported extravagance.

Dean Blehert

Last Updated: October 6, 2002

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