Friday, January 18, 2013


A couple of months ago I visited Frankfort, Kentucky, for Kentucky Book Fair (which was awesome, especially as my good friend Pat was with me!). One afternoon we explored downtown and of course spent some time in Poor Richard's Bookstore, where I headed straight for the poetry section.

I was looking for one book in particular: ANIMAL EYE by Paisley Rekdal. I'd not read any of Paisley's work, but I'd seen her book as one of the finalists on Goodreads' annual reader's choice awards.

Imagine my delight when I found it, right there, front and center, on the shelf! I cracked it open and started reading.

And then I had to sit down. No lie. I was so moved by this one poem, I had to find a chair and read it again. And again. It's one of those poems I feel like was written just for me -- or rather, I am just the reader for that particular poem.

And maybe -- especially if you were once a horse-loving gal like I was -- maybe you are the reader for this poem, too.

Why Some Girls Love Horses

by Paisley Rekdal

And then I thought, Can I have more
of this, would it be possible
for every day to be a greater awakening: more light,
more light, your face on the pillow
with the sleep creases rudely
fragmenting it, hair so stiff
from paint and Sheetrock it feels
like the dirty short hank
of mane I used to grab on Dandy’s neck
before he hauled me up and forward,
white flanks flecked green
with shit and the satin of his dander,
the livingness, the warmth
of all that blood just under the skin
and in the long, thick muscle of the neck-
he was smarter than most of the children
I went to school with. He knew
how to stand with just the crescent
of his hoof along a boot toe and press,
incrementally, his whole weight down. _ e pain
so surprising when it came,
its iron intention sheathed in stealth, the decisive
sudden twisting of his leg until the hoof
pinned one’s foot completely to the ground,
we’d have to beat and beat him with a brush
to push him off , that hot
insistence with its large horse eye trained
deliberately on us, to watch-
Like us, he knew how to announce through violence
how he didn’t hunger, didn’t want
despite our practiced ministrations: too young
not to try to empathize
with this cunning: this thing
that was and was not human we must respect
for itself and not our imagination of it: I loved him because

Wow, huh?

Be sure to visit Violet Nesdoly for Poetry Friday Roundup!
AND... National Poetry Month is coming!

Caroline Starr Rose is seeking poets to create guest posts throughout the month. Pop on over and sign up!

One more thing: In honor of my one little word for 2013:

The bluebird carries the sky on his back. 
-Henry David Thoreau 

Happy day, friends. xo


  1. I rode in my youth, & then had a sweet, sweet arab mare for a long while before I returned to teaching, Irene. It was sad to say goodbye. This poem is beautiful, takes me back to those feelings that one has with those wonderful animals. "that when you turn to me/it is a choice". I'm so glad you found the poem! And then shared!

  2. Wow. Like Linda, I also rode in my youth (and worked in a stable). I miss the amazing relationship between horse and rider -- "as if they were one body, one fluid motion/ of electric understanding".

  3. Yes. Wow. And I didn't ride, but I can see such "fierceness" here, such beauty. Wishing you bluebird skies!

  4. Hi, Irene. I have a friend who is learning to do body-work on horses. I can't wait to share this poem with her. I loved the phrase "iron intention." It seems that the book was meant to jump into your hands!

  5. Powerful! My 15 year old daughter rides...I'm going to share this poem with her tonight. =)

  6. Dear Irene,
    I never rode regularly, but did have a girl crush on horses, from the plastic ones we played with on the floor to the occasional visits to stables, to Equus in the theater. I love the juxtaposition of her lover and a horse in such gorgeous detail.
    Thanks for exploding my brain with this poem.

  7. Powerful poem. I also like what the Rekdal said, the paragraph just before the poem in the link you gave, where she mentioned the poets she was reading at the time she wrote the poem (and I assume the whole collection). Is she implying our poetry takes on the color of the work we read and re-read?

    Violet N.

  8. Tremendous poem! Having been around horses much of my life, I can certainly identify with the speaker - gender notwithstanding!

  9. "the one who taught me disobedience / is the first right of being alive."

    GAH! Marvelous line, powerful poem. That's one for the wall. Thanks for sharing this treasure, Irene!

  10. "this thing
    ...we must respect
    for itself and not our imagination of it"

    This could apply to more than horses!

  11. Oh, Renee stole my favorite line. That's what I get for being late to the party. Yes, wow, Irene - thanks for sharing. We came to horses when my daughter was growing up, were entrenched for years, and let them go when sports etc. took over in high school (among other logistics at that time). I still miss them, and I learned more from the horse we had which was not terribly unlike the one in this poem than from the ones who caused less trouble! Thank you for introducing me to this poet and her fine work.

  12. Wow! Some serious emotion went into this. Thanks for sharing it, Irene.

  13. Okay, you made me cry.... I could just see Pride... gentle but with a wacky sense of humor when we didn't pay attention...I still miss that old boy... one day I need to write a poem about Miss Sandy and her temperamental ways


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