The Poem Ends

BY B.C. Mitchell

A chestnut stallion canters by
your window, flanks scrunching,
sweat-flecked, hooves
wet from field-flung mud. The grass
is coarse beneath him, scrub-bunched
with sawtooth strawflowers, and before
his musky hay-scent greets
your nose, in half a twitch, he’s
past. The poem ends.

But does the horse? Crane your neck a little, squeeze
your cheek against the glass and really look.

Perhaps he met a farmer, leather-grizzled
but smiling all five teeth, all white teeth, no
teeth. Wearing clean overalls or faded overhauls.

Or a sandy-haired boy, waving laughter full
of carrots, or cruelty, a hidden stick rough-knobbed
but worn finger-smooth at the grip.

Or a slow-sidled mare, nickering, lip-nipping
up his crest, or a foal, a filly, a frightened cow, nudging
none or each, pulsing warmth in heartbeats.

A life of or. A giggling girl in braids, or loose
haired, loose-bodied, sliding rawhide boots halfway up
her calf. A red barn, green barn, green
tractor, John Deere’s horse flying
past your window, past pine trees, ash,
a mill, well, Chevy pickup, a 1972 Mustang
wheel-well rusted black and peeling
white. Look closer.

Gaze into the pane until it creaks,
until it hurts, bone grating skin, teeth digging
blood-dimples in your cheeks. Taste
that life beyond the borders, through the eggshell
walls, and write it down. Or step outside.


B.C. Mitchell starts his MFA at Georgia College and State University in fall 2011 and will soon live in Milledgeville. His poetry and/or flash prose appears or will appear in The MacGuffin, the Avery Anthology, OVS Magazine, and others. He likes iambic on the sly and tends to watch the rain.