A Twist in the Tale: The Haunted Horse

By Jenny Kalahar

In honor of April being National Poetry Month, please enjoy this poem of horses for those who love and care for them or any animal.


The Haunted Horse

The haunted horse who lives on your farm
Shies at flies for a very good reason
Reasons tied to a time before you led her home
She won’t be ridden

So you let her prance and stand and graze, unbothered
You allow her freedom to be soft and shy
With blades of grass between her lips
Her brown body is flecked with patches white
At muzzle and sides where ghostly hands have petted her

Had she a human’s voice she may have told you
And no one else
About the visitations that still happen far too often
About the riders she can’t shake or feel the weight of on her back
She would bow her head to tell you if she could

The haunted horse who lives on your welcoming acres
Snorts at cats for a reason
She has no inclination toward offered carrots
And likes green apples even less, for fear of brown spots or of worms
But she is safe, and I have told her now
About her past lives on other shores
Where she sat in a serene Buddhist temple as guardian dog
Surrounded by lovely political order and the finest respect
Then, her only irritations were blueblack flies that bit her nose until it bled
They could not be stopped by mindfulness or meditation:
They were not followers of the faith

The haunted horse who sighs so sweetly when you near
Had familiar eyes when she was birthed
You remember gasping when you saw her
She had none of the weakness that afflicts other newborns
And her gaze up to your eyes
Was magical, like locking souls
But you did not know why she had come

So let me tell you of your connection, even though you have forgotten:
You once sat beside her in a temple
Rubbing salves upon her nose and petting her to soothe
Now she’s returned to comfort you this time
To take cold hauntings in your stead
To let your sorrows visit her at night
And to guard your sleep and dreams as best she can

She will not let those dark ghosts trouble
Blueblack ghosts who would bite at you like flies

Jenny Kalahar, her husband Patrick, and their pets live in Indiana where she sells used and rare books and writes novels and poetry. Her two novels about fostering cats are Shelve Under C: A Tale of Used Books and Cats, and The Find of a Lifetime: Another Tale of Used Books and Cats. Her collection of nostalgic and humorous poetry is One Mile North of Normal and Other Poems. For more, visit her blog, Bookselling and Writing with Weegee.

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