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,
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,
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.