Pierced, I shut down my phone, its careless screen, drove the road’s wet echo beyond myself and only past the state line north before slowing, crumpling to the shoulder, to the sagging fence– for what — to sit on the damp hill, feeling the easy guilt? I did until the horse’s snort, its stamping sound, the huge dark eye I stood to meet, flecks of fallen moon liquid there, and there in it, the Me I saw: small, astonished — seen. The seeing was not human. There was no more accurate shame. Pricks of stars on the muddy ground. Cheat grass, thistle weed’s purple tufts knee-height swaying in soft wind. The horse breathing. The horse, as if sensing my need, drew back in to nuzzle my hand. I couldn’t bear to let it touch me.
Max McDonough is a writer in New York City. His poetry and essays have appeared in The New York Times, T Magazine, AGNI, Food52, and elsewhere. You can find him online at maxmcdonough.org.