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.


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