Barley the Color of a Wild Horse


Barley the Color of a Wild HorseI cannot sleep the nights my mother stays with me, my body a heavy stone, my brain an animal racing across a goatgrass field, rearing each time the house settles, ready to buck the covers off, then clearly a crescendoing, sometimes the guest bed banging against the hardwood floor, & in these times I fear she’s possessed, like something out of that horror movie, & in these times I’ve had to hold her down, pinning her arms & legs, imagining a summer’s cloud as light as love’s breath, & in these times I try not to bruise her awake, because I learned that lesson the time we both fell to the floor, because I know where she’s at when the thrashing begins, because I see she’s trying to get away from her mother, how a white scar on her arm carries the memories, how sometimes I trace that scar with my pinky finger, softer, lighter, as if I have a sparrow in hand, & sometimes, after she has sank back into the now, after the dank exhalation of those days have left her parted lips, I kiss that white place, bestow a benediction, & I whisper I’ll tip the world over for her, shake it for loose change, & I whisper I’ll gather the coins & trade them for salt & honeycomb & barley the color of a wild horse, & I whisper Name that wild horse Mizar & ride him across the grasses, past the plowed field, & to the stream,& we never talk about the times she wakes to find me curled up next to her.

Photo used under CC.


About Author


L Mari Harris splits her time between Nebraska and the Ozarks, and works as a copywriter in the tech industry. Her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have been published in or are forthcoming in Bird’s Thumb, cahoodaloodaling, Gravel, Lost Balloon, Milk Candy Review, MoonPark Review, Silk Road Review, among others. Follow her on Twitter @LMariHarris and read more of her work at

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