How to Kill an Old HorseRascal2018-09-04T18:39:14+00:00
How to Kill an Old Horse
After years hunkered in a tent in the woods with his brother and father,
because his father had lit the house on fire at least twice in a panic,
and after his mother was trucked North to the Concord State Hospital,
where she would die, and after he led a roan mare
into a barn with a tricky floor and the horse was skewered,
not unlike a squirrel on a spit, and the horse had to be shot
because it wouldn’t die quickly enough, and after
years of squirrelling food away in pockets and shaking my father
awake in the middle of the night to say, we have to get out of here,
and moving across state lines in the dark, and after my grandmother came home
from the OR in her scrubs and he put his finger in her face
for the last time, and after pushing the lawnmower over my mother’s rosebushes,
my grandfather sent me a friend request, to which I didn’t respond, and died.
I flipped through his books, every line on every page underlined
and every margin packed with notes about the impossibility of the existence
of any sort of god, pages which reeked of cigarettes years after his death.
I tilted the picture frames on his walls in his apartment to check for ghost spots
as I had tilted them as a child. I raked clumps of praying mantis
with my hands in the grass, and I heard him throwing a door open
and jousting at me with his cane, my brother saying don’t talk to her like that,
my grandfather saying, go to hell, you miserable kids. Go straight to hell.
Clara Strong is a student of poetry at the Bennington Writing Seminars. She writes from the cornfields of Southern Indiana, where she is a social worker at a local health clinic and lives with her husband and child (forthcoming). There, she helps host Slant, a monthly poetry reading. She has work forthcoming in Peauxdunque Review.