In the Face of Death

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In the Face of Death

         By Ute Carson

Our mare is old, old,

Her back swayed by 111 horse years, some would say.

She wheezes, hoofing along a grassy path

To the cemetery of equines, dogs and cats.

Under a cluster of pines she whiffs the morning mist,

Flickering with memories of ancient instincts.

None of her companions joined her in that place of departed spirits. 

She pauses, dozes. A blood-red sunset.

Up from the ground, she struggles once more this morning to her feet,

Her rump buffeting the wind,

Flanks heaving, swaying from side to side,

A weak heart pulsing against the remaining rhythms of her youth,

Her ears perked to the sound of my voice,

Bestowing calm. 

Now I feed her carrots and sing to her.

In the wink of an eye the lethal dose stops her.

Gently her legs buckle,

The velveteen-brown irises dilate,

In eyes, ringed like an owl’s,

Wondering, questioning.

She slumps forward into prayer position,

Deep obeisance to the earth,

Her eyelashes wet with sweat drops like tears.

A last breath, thin as fog,

An experience of awe?

The dividing line between visible and invisible realms.

There is always mystery in the face of death,

Bitter even if accepted.                       

I am dazed by sadness. 

The sky in the west is darkening,

The moon a perfect circle,

Air moving in a great wind

Making loud whooshing sounds,

Rearranging my thoughts

And leading me through our years of adventures together.

Thus am I released back to my everyday life

And depart without another glance at my fallen companion.


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