The woman washing the dapple gray
in front of the New Haven police stable
moves from withers to flanks, soaping its back.
It’s a heavy horse, bred for the plow,
with shod hooves wider than an outspread hand,
haunches and head massive as cast metal.
From off among the trees, a boy and I watch
as she turns on the hose and the horse steps
forward and slips its head inside a stall’s half-door
to avoid splash and dazzle. Calmly,
as if the world were not now in its blind spot—
Black men bleeding, dogs romping in the fountain.
It lifts a rear hoof and flexes slowly,
showing every muscle and tendon connecting
thigh to cannon bone, then sets it down.
And when that horse’s shoe hits the ground,
we hear a sound nothing like a sudden shot
but deliberate, the gesture of an animal
trained not to startle at traffic, not to kick,
and never to nuzzle the awed citizens
who stare when it steps out of the past.
Then the horse turns toward the sun, gleaming
for a moment, fair and dark, a vision of justice
as something gentle, calm, bigger than us.
Dana Sonnenschein’s most recent books are Natural Forms, and Bear Country. Find her at https://www.facebook.com/Dana-Sonnenschein-104761453404/ and on Instagram, where she’s documenting the wildflower season as she wanders the local woods.