Because the mare had been whipped
first, they said the hide was worthless,
so they let the silent girl have it,
after the head had been nailed up
over the eastern gate. She whispered
when she passed under the mare’s skull
at dawn and dusk, and was answered
with a nickering sigh. At night she slept
near the hearth’s dying coruscations,
her heart pulsing like an ember
in the embrace of the lacerated hide.
The mare’s grey dapples cloaked her
as she wandered the fallow fields,
the long mane trailing down her back.
Her legs became darker, thinner,
longer; her hair whitened to become
indistinguishable from the tangle
of mane. She had nothing to eat
but a few shriveled windfall apples
and the wild grasses and sedges.
One day a band of boys gave chase.
Her callused feet galloped over
a rocky ridge, outdistancing them
easily. The wind caught the skin
she had wrapped around herself,
swelling it into the shape of a horse.
A clatter of hooves, the flick of a tail,
and she was gone.
F.J. Bergmann frequents Wisconsin and fibitz.com, writing poetry, speculative fiction and what falls between those worlds, and functioning (so to speak) as the poetry editor of Mobius: The Journal of Social Change (mobiusmagazine.com) and the editor of Star*Line (http://sfpoetry.com/starline.html).