You asked, who was he?
I mean, I used to work in the stalls. And I liked it. I liked the smell of sawdust.
Some say it burns the nose so bad, you know, the urine. The piss.
When I was a girl, I thought it smelled like apple juice gone bad. Didn’t mind it.
Just shovel. Concentrate on the ground. He’d say.
And yeah, it would stir up dust. Coughing and sneezing, listening to the breath of the horses.
Someone said, once, I think it was in a dream, that we should go down to the dust.
Or we will.
Move your arms, back, he’d say, sweating,
in a good way.
No one could find us here.
You can talk to horses. He’d say
I mean, they don’t talk back, but sometimes they do. Not in words, not really.
He said, More like a feeling.
And if anything can teach you how to think, it’s horses.
So I’d work, cleaning stalls.
Stir up dust. Sneeze.
I’d say the same thing, I’d say: “Seven times a day do I praise thee.
My eyes are awake before the watches of the night.
Seven times a day. That’s a lot.
And I’d be in there all evening. Till the sun went down.
Light has a way through sawdust.
I miss that light, he said
In the city there isn’t that kind of light. Not orange.
Then the movement of him.
I used to work in the stalls until the movement came. I mean, I can’t explain it.
“before the watches of the night.” That’s what I’d say.
And he came.
Do I praise thee. I’d say.
My eyes are awake.
Barn owls. Barn owls eyes are awake. Watching the night.
He’d come. Sawdust everywhere.
In our hair, jeans, boots.
Just a kid.
I’d be moving my hands.
Concentrate on the ground. He said.
Burn in the nose, yeah the smell burned.
But I liked it. Liked telling myself he’d come.
First I was afraid. Light bends that way, in the evening.
Stirring up dust so you can’t see edges.
Stalls have bars. I’d look through. Pretend, keep me safe.
Stand still, I’d say
Couldn’t make out if that was hooves moving or him.
Seven times a day, I’d say. Seven times a day I praise thee.
He’d give me some money. He’d say, come back tomorrow.
Run home. Into the orange light.
All things can turn into that, he’d say. Into that.
And I’d say what?
And he’d say, THAT, pointing to the sun, setting.
See this dust? He’d say. You gotta get through the dust to that.
Then he’d move his hands over the horses’ back, and I mean, I was a kid but,
I don’t know.
Something about it.
Something about wanting to be that, and feel that.