Laurel and the Mare


It was spring and Southern Ontario air tasted of trees.
A pregnant mare escaped to the woods from her prison on the estrogen farm.
She had long, curled hooves and cracked skin.
She came to Laurel and her two children at the edge of Beamsville.
Laurel had no work, a jumble of painted canvasses in the porch, her father’s
Hired man’s stucco cottage. Laurel, Hadley, Malcolm wore ski jackets and jeans.
The horse loved to exercise at night in the yard.
They combed her and gave her oats. They couldn’t afford a vet so they

Called a farrier horse dentist and she fixed the skin and hooves and filed the teeth.
They hung a trouble light on a nail and talked to the horse at night.
The farm smelled of animal again: you know the power of grass breath.
They read library horse books and what’s left of the family
Sang with the radio in the barn. Those might have been holy days,
They were feast days, and the children were pulled away from
American television by the strong and willing horse.

Torn French bread and good cheap Beamsville Magnotta wine on the picnic table,
Wine for the children, too, and they all read in their beds after dark.
Laurel went to bed thinking: “It’s La Vie Boheme for us.”
She gloated at the return of sexual
Feeling and the possibility of love and laughed her
Coarse, sweet, hee-haw laugh.

Paul Anthony Hutchinson
This poem was published in Canadian Poetry
Copyright Paul Anthony Hutchinson

Gloating Over Mildred

Gloating Over Mildred

St. Catharines light in the afternoon: lead oxide, pink white, dry mud shadows.
They lay on her living room carpet and Anthony gloated over Mildred,
Her cotton nightgown, her long back, and round shoulders: proof at last.
“So this is gloating. It is better to gloat than to doubt. It took me a long time.”

Her clean faded quilt brought from the balcony rail: it
Smells of clean laundry and cold air and the thrill of their power.
He’s proud to be the lover of a heroine,
And happy that he can see her this way.

Picnic kisses tasting of smoked oysters and beer.
There were never friendly kisses of love before?
“Mildred, I love hearing how you defied the adults.”

He told Hansel and Gretel to her child, who had strep throat,
And told it again, knowing it would work,

Seeing the bookshelves, seeing her notebooks,
Knowing that he would have his life after all:

The mispronounced words of a solitary reader,
The red skirt on the chair, the gold necklace of coins.

Paul Anthony Hutchinson