Homage to Dressage*
Down at the hippocampuswhere blood and electrons meet
sparking emotion and instinct
large mythozoic mammalsabandon dry land to submerge
in rivers of effortless breath
and oh! the cool joy that risesas gravity falls
and oh! how lightly they
tread in the lazy underhazewafting through haphazard
currents in equine ballets
(*with apologies to the noble 'potomous)
Time must have hooked itself to a chain
of old elephants to be going this slow.
These circus ghosts, retired with health care,
have nothing to do all day but drag it around
their sanctuary like a bale of rotting hay,
leaving bits and stalks in their lurch.
Shall we hitch a ride on the back
of this beast? Take the time and slow it down
to a sleepy turtle's traipse? Scrape it against
the walls and drag it through the water trough?
Unhook it where it washes up, watch it dry
in the slow air?
Or we could keep our distance
maybe pellet the tough hides
with pebbles from peashooters,
try to get a rise.
When they were young, and shapely women
with scanty clothing rode their proud shoulders,
did they quicken their pace then?
And did time stop altogether in the spotlight,
in the warm glow of the applause,
and are they all recalling now
their last bow, one knee on the floor,
hoping against hope
it will never start again?
Linnea Harper lives on a tidal slough on the Oregon coast, near the mouth of the Alsea River. Her poems have been published here and there, including in CALYX, and she has been a finalist for the Bunchgrass Prize. Before she was a poet, she was a social worker, and before she was a social worker, she was a poet.