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.