The First Time I Rode a Horse

Written by: Paul Sylvester

Big hands taxied me up
to the seat
I took for a cradle

on a back already bent
and filled with rutted lines and bite scars,
his hair was still brown
but in spots, 
where the skin panicked for cover,
age sprang up like the General’s venerable gray

and He stood there laughing with the crows
about how regal I looked
with a toy whip in one hand

but how I looked 
   was unimportant
as we moved my smell bled through
and two aggressive rings flared
and figured me out-
a few more feet and I could feel the unsettling shift
of unhappy weight beneath my reach.

So I held fast
to the great Van Dyke brush
(its fibers and bristle 
magnetized from front to back)
with a handle carved
from thick muscle, 
that clung for life to the bones 

but He did not notice
the flex in the gelding’s arcing neck,
and He must have sneezed, or blinked,
through the vital twitch 
that shook 
and dissolved into
hyperbolic, bay curves:

when it upset the Dauphin’s new throne
with a weak kick,
everyone was surprised.