The Winning Poems

Tessa Biddington

Inasmuch as it was possible for a soldier
who had copulated with his mare,
US Marshall Warren Drake, Utah Militia,
regretted that she - like him -
faced the death penalty.

He imagined the day. She would bob
her chestnut head so the blonde ropes of forelock
swung across her child's eyes. Her creamy nostrils
would dilate to a private and pink interior while
she shifted in the dust. White-stockinged hocks
would separate and come together in a seductive dance
around the pivot of the forelegs, tensile
as guitar strings shivering in the prairie wind.

He remembered the biscuit and sweat scent
of her, the slick neck beneath his hand, the contraction
of her belly under his calves as he urged her faster,
the glossy quarters pistoning behind him, flying
a tail like a company standard.

And how the crack of the gun would suspend
time - a hiatus in which silence compressed itself
in the hot sick air, like the flight of a tumbling boulder
before it bounces off the side of a canyon. Then
the lips would fall back against themselves,
the blood gush at the bullet hole, the legs
buckle and the girlish knees kiss the ground.
The hooves, derailed, scraping at nothing...
The underbelly rolling with its seam of hair
from chest to virgin teats, and the tail
winnowing for a grain of hope...

Inasmuch as he could regret that the mare's
sentence was confirmed while his was commuted,
he did. He saw this was right - he had been beguiled.

He remembered her tooled leather bridle
with the fancy stitching and, hoping it was not
too late, sent word she should shot in a halter.

Image (photograph)
Copyright of this poem remains with the author.
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