It is the turning I most remember:
Just another ordinary day
I woke and looked out the window.
The mare stood with the colt half out of her,
Membrane still completely intact.
I ran like a warrior, butcher knife in hand
Stabbed into that death bubble
Liquid gushing out, the foal lifeless.
I had sense enough to wonder for a moment
Will she kick me?
But she just looked back.
It is the turning I still remember
Wide-eyed, nostrils flaring
While we shared the stare of horror.
I grabbed the one front leg that had made it out
And pulled and pulled and we both fell.
Rain began to beat down
Her body heaved and squeezed
Her baby, its lifeless tongue lolled out.
As I lay on my back on the ground for the first time
In a long, long time, with raindrops falling on my face
I pulled and pulled once more and in a rush
Like an earthquake or a heartbreak
The motionless gorgeous dappled foal was free
Of her, of me, of the fence and rain, of earth.
I opened my mouth to the sky’s tears.
We all laid there in that stunned moment,
Both the living panting, me crying.
It is the turning I remember
She only raised her head again, stared
At what could never be,
Then looked away
Out across the dark cedar thicket and pine shadows
While I dragged myself to my feet
To stagger up to the house and coffee and shower.
I got ready and went on to work
Death school having let out early.
Rita Quillen’s novel HIDING EZRA, published in March 2014 by Little Creek Books, has a chapter included in the scholarly study of Appalachian dialect, TALKING APPALACHIAN, published by the University of Kentucky Press. She also has a new chapbook SOMETHING SOLID TO ANCHOR TO (Finishing Line 2014). One of six semi- finalists for the 2012–14 Poet Laureate of Virginia, she received a Pushcart nomination and a Best of the Net nomination in 2012. Currently, she’s working on turning her poems into songs. This poem is in her new collection The Mad Farmer's Wife, due out in 2016 from Texas Review Press.
Beautiful but sad…