After Work by Jane Hirshfield


After Work

I stop the car along the pasture edge,

gather up bags of corncobs from the back,

and get out.

Two whistles, one for each,

and familiar sounds draw close in darkness—

cadence of hoof on hardened bottomland,

twinned blowing of air through nostrils curious, flared.

They come deepened and muscular movements

conjured out of sleep: each small noise and scent

heavy with earth, simple beyond communion,

beyond the stretched-out hand from which they calmly

take corncobs, pulling away as I hold

until the mid-points snap.

They are careful of my fingers,

offering that animal-knowledge,

the respect which is due to strangers;

and in the night, their mares' eyes shine, reflecting stars,

the entire, outer light of the world here.

A Blessing by James Wright

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,

Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.

 And the eyes of those two Indian ponies

 Darken with kindness.

 They have come gladly out of the willows

 To welcome my friend and me.

 We step over the barbed wire into the pasture

 Where they have been grazing all day, alone.

They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness   

That we have come.

They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.

 There is no loneliness like theirs.   

 At home once more,

 They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.   

 I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,

 For she has walked over to me   

 And nuzzled my left hand.   

 She is black and white,

 Her mane falls wild on her forehead,

 And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear

 That is delicate as the skin over a girl’s wrist.

 Suddenly I realize

 That if I stepped out of my body I would break

 Into blossom.