-by Elizabeth Bachinsky
for Michael Turner
For you, I’ll recall
walking to the barn to ride my horse Biscuit.
1991. I wore a white blouse
that tied at the throat
and mom’s brown leather coat
with tangles of suede dangling from the sleeves.
I was thirteen.
See the camel-coloured
jodhpurs, the tall black riding boots,
my brown hair tied up in a pony
tail, and me taking big steps
through the suburb?
It didn’t take long to cut out
to the fields where mom boarded the thoroughbred.
I went there after school,
but sometimes I’d arrive and realize what I’d forgot,
so I’d tack him up and ride him back
through the subdivision where horses couldn’t go—careful
not to leave a hoofprint
on the neighbours’ lawn.
I’d tie him to a streetlight
and go inside.
For you, I’d like to take
a picture of that. The empty
subdivision at 3:15 in the afternoon
on a Wednesday; those rows
of identical homes, brand new as
they all were then; and
those pastel colours (you know
the kind) and the beige
vinyl siding and the brand new green
lawns like postage stamps
licked and stuck to the earth out front.
No trees, just a razed cow field
where developers built and
we moved in.
This picture is huge.
See my bay tied by the reins to the street lamp?
From here, he is small, impatient,
wanting to snip at the grass
with his enormous flat white teeth—
but he can’t, he’s caught up.
He lifts one wide front hoof and
brings it down on the asphalt,
a clop like two heavy blocks
coming together in an auditorium—
then stamps that hoof again
my big dark horse, waiting
for me to come on back
-from Liz’s new book The Hottest Summer in Recorded History.