The first time I put my hands on a horse
I pretend like I’m touching a woman
or brushing my Mamma’s hair, except I make sure
none of the ugly I might be carrying around is riding with me.
Before I step foot in a stall, I might even stop gather myself
in the quiet morning air close my eyes and picture
my Lucy sleeping or Mamma peeling apples or both of them
sitting with their feet in the creek and laughing.
It’s a lot like prayer only I ain’t asking for nothing
but for God to lift my burdens right off of my hands
so that my touch is like a mother’s kiss like a baptism even.
I just want the horse to know my heart is clean to feel
all my respect, no fear and nothing of the heaviness or darkness
that follow even good men around like a tail do the head.
Frank X Walker
“Groom” is from I Dedicate This Ride: The Making of Isaac Murphy (Old Cove Press, 2010).