Only it isn't today any longer, it almost never is but the one time,
but still it was today when it happened.
There's been no poetry poking about in my soul
these days but I've been circumspect about it
and counseled myself that like a bear in winter
it may not be dead but only growing cubs,
living off stored fat, and sleeping.
Today I was at the grain store buying feed
for my four horses. The man who loads the grain
out of the warehouse is leathery and lean as an old bean.
He's chatty and kind, and when I have dogs in the car
he gives them too many biscuits and has to wait to load
the grain bags till they finish.
So as I said, this vessel for the poetry she-bear (me)
was buying and he was loading and chatting and about the third
bag he asked me what kind of horses I had, and I told him,
and then he said to me that when he were a young man
there was a Morgan mare lived on the farm of a man he worked for,
and only he could load this mare onto a horse trailer when it was time
for her and her girl to make the rounds across New England for the horse show
season every year. He said that if anyone raised a whip or said a harsh word
to this mare, she flat out refused to do anything. But he treated her kind and she loaded for him every time, and, he added, animals weren't no different than people (or sleeping bears.)
So the bags were loaded by now but the story wasn't done.
He went on to tell me how he went into the service then, and when
he came home on his first furlough, he found that his old dog of fourteen years, who used to ride shotgun with him when he trailered that crotchety mare and never leave his side mostly, had disappeared two weeks after he'd left home for the service, and his mum hadn't the heart to write and let him know.
So he decided to go visit the mare, Duchess her name was, and when he got
to the pasture she wasn't there, so he asked his old boss if something had happened to her as well, him having just lost his dog and all, but no, she was only up at the barn. So off he went to the barn and called her name,
and the minute she heard his voice she whickered and nickered and stomped
and came to him and butted him with her head, and his old boss said, "Damn she remembers you, after all this time," which isn't really so remarkable if you
know horses, but still here was me buying grain, and here was this man who is leathery and old himself now, and he says to me, he says it still breaks him up and I see he has tears in his eyes and he's struggling with his voice but he's not stopping with the story, and here's me with a car full of grain and I have tears in my eyes and I can hardly respond for fear of sobbing and I'm thinking, I just needed to pick up some grain. He just needed to load it in my car.