Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Meadowsweet, County Mayo

Atop the continental divide of this half-Clydesdale,
half Cobb, I lumber above Carrowholly countryside,
led by eighteen-year-old Anya, keeper of Belle
and holiday-neighbor to me, fifty – decades away
from knowing how a horse moves.

Anya talks fauna, names every flower
Belle covets as we clop down the lane.
I can see above fuschia hedgerows
to cows lolling beside gorse, to sheep
newly shorn, grazing the scruff. Nothing

moves faster than us. Belle startles
at a plastic grocery bag lofted in the breeze,
ignores a tractor rumbling by. I won’t swim
astride this horse as Anya has, accompanied
by seals. Nor will I canter under a solstice

moon at low tide. At fourteen I rode
a borrowed horse bareback all one summer,
pleasure sustained in the ripple of each flank.
Now the saddle creaks beneath me
as we detour down a path through nettles

and gnarled oaks. Beseiged by gnats,
Belle’s tail swooshes, ears flick.
We emerge in an abandoned pasture,
the backbone of Croagh Patrick rising
above us beyond Clew Bay. I won’t ride again

this June. Rainfall will surpass records,
and I’ll fly home six thousand miles
over ice and ocean, over North America
to a house in the city, a craving
for meadowsweet on my tongue.

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