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Shires

In those days the horses seemed

as dinosaurs, but gentle. I watched them

wander one end

of field to the other,

the brown clouds of their shadows

in the late afternoon, trailing.

Mostly they stayed away. But once

in a while, like a tribe

of benevolent gods, they’d offer

their eyes, those polished stones,

their swivel ears, purse-shaped,

delicate, their massive hooves,

sturdy and perfectly curved.

And once, in a dream, I fell

from that rail—I knew they could crush me—

but they formed a circle

and for a long while watched

over me until the oldest, by my collar

in his teeth, lifted me back.

In my dream, they turned

together to the green field,

that trough, their deep

and generous shade.

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—Jen Bryant (Originally published in the North Dakota Review, 2007.)
*Shires are the largest breed of horse, weighing up to 3.000lbs.
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