The Horse Tree

 

A fierce wind sweeps through the tree,

Stirring branches with restless ease,

Leaves dancing wildly, playing

In coltish movement.

 

A low creak emanates from the depth of the tree,

As its massive trunk shifts with the wind,

Its uneven fork listing from side to side.

 

The stallion leaps forward,

Snorting loudly, ears flicking back and forth,

Tasting the wind,

Its coal black coat glistening in the sun.

 

Tossing his head, elegant and proud,

He trots,

Light as air,

Yet controlled, deliberate.

He spies his shadow –

It grows long, then short

As the breeze dances along the tall grass.      

 

Striking out a foreleg,

He kicks up dirt,

Shrills out his challenge in a long, piercing note.

It hangs in the air, then fades to an echo.

 

Whirling to face the sun,

The stallion bolts,

His silky mane streaming out behind him,

His long thick tail a banner in the wind.

 

His strides come

Long

Fast

Exultant.

His freedom.

 

He revels in the wind

That caresses his skin,

His heart swells with joy

And he turns his muzzle to the sky.

Glorying in the beauty of the day,

He heralds his presence to the world,

His pace slowing to a mile-eating trot.

 

He half-rears, snorting, blowing furiously,

Sees the distance he has come,

And the distance he yearns to fly.

 

He hesitates,

The fields’ grasses and wild flowers

Beckoning him forward,

Teasing him, whispering to him

To come, play with them, forget the time passing by.

 

Shaking his head, he nickers, deep in his throat,

Wanting to play,

Wanting to stay,

Wanting to forget that time passes.

 

He looks again at the sky,

Turns his nose to the wind,

Scenting the air,

And knows that his time grows short.

 

For the hot yellow of the sun begins

To smolder into burnt orange,

Shadows into bruised purples as daylight fades.

 

Head and tail high, he dances forward

One step

Two steps

Three steps.

On the fourth, he rears to his full height,

Screams his dominance,

Then whirls, gallops back to where he had come,

Knowing full well,

That he will return.

 

His limbs grow heavy,

Thick, as if he had traveled thousands of miles

Instead of a paltry few.

 

Nostrils swelling as he sucks in air,

The stallion put forth a final burst of speed,

Sweat marking his haunches with the effort it took.

Nearing his starting point,

He whistled his triumph,

Having bought his freedom

For one more day.

He slides to a halt, scattering dirt and pebbles,

Rears high, reaching to touch the sky,

Twisting his body,

His coat begins to harden into rough grooves,

Joining his hind legs,

Growing solidly one with the earth,

Thickening into a single part,

Becoming the trunk.

His forelegs branch out,

Supporting smaller branches,

Bearing leaves.

He throws his head back,

In an eternal cry,

Which the wind will carry

For all time, past and present,

And into the future

As he stands, frozen,

Caught forever in the guise of a tree.

 

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