When I was nine, the horses ran off.
It wasn't my fault
but my father would not stop.
I held one side of my face like the moon
to the teacher all day, ashamed.

At thirteen I stood at the open gate.
The men shouted nice things from the pickup
and offered a ride into town.
We went so fast my hair streamed straight back
like a mane.
I pretended I was a horse.
The men laughed and touched me.
My mother was afraid.
When she heard my father slam the screen door,
she put her finger on my lips.
. . .























. . .
I got up early when I was sixteen
and went to the pasture.
The horses were standing to their flanks in fog
as though wading.
They turned their heads toward me.
They recognized me
as one of them, wild
my mother said,
even whippings can't tame me anymore.
Lowering their heads to graze,
they left their bodies
just bodies on the cloud field.
. . .























. . .
The horses kept calling me
and I got a lift at the gate.
Glistening heads
we gallopers away,
at my side that lean hound
painted on the bus, reaching toward the city.

I'm older now but not so old
I don't remember horses smelled like luck.
They're gone now
but I know the wind in my hair
when the train plunges into the subway station.
All I want is food to eat,
to keep myself and my clothes clean.
It's not your fault,
but I'm asking for any change you can spare.
Or you can bow your head down
and I'll pass by because I know
how you could want
to leave your body behind.