Sudden Gods

One cold, starry night
I check on the cows in the absolute dark
and find one missing –
fearing she is calving alone in the field I set out
to find her,
following beaten-down grooves in the snow from so many hooves,
paths made of frozen dung,
flashlight roaming crazy over the frozen pasture.

The horses emerge from the darkness like
sudden gods,
looming thick-pelted and heavy-breathed to touch me,

I find the cow; she is eating alone, no calf at her side,
unconcerned at her solitude,
more black than the dark all around.

I shut off my light and adjust
my eyes to the moonless night and
there is well enough starlight to navigate these freeways
of trodden footpaths woven back and forth
between the sweet new hay and the
promise of water.

I turn for home, the
stars bursting brighter and
the lights of the cabin urging me warmly home.

As one,
and with me,
the horses move forward,
flowing down the shallow hill
into formation,
the mare Amalia in step beside me.

In silence we walk together
through this bright and precious night –

the dark mare at my side, the others overtaking us
until I am surrounded
by feet and bellies and tall shoulders and
stars that they burn out the constellations
and I find nothing familiar in that vast,
heavenly dome –

and yet I walk in this herd as a blooded member.

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