The Mad Farmer's Wife Delivers the Foal, poem by Rita Quillen

It is the turn­ing I most remember:

Just anoth­er ordi­nary day

I woke and looked out the window.

The mare stood with the colt half out of her,

Mem­brane still com­plete­ly intact.

I ran like a war­rior, butch­er knife in hand

Stabbed into that death bubble

Liq­uid gush­ing out, the foal lifeless.

I had sense enough to won­der for a moment

Will she kick me?

But she just looked back.

It is the turn­ing I still remember

Wide-eyed, nos­trils flaring

While we shared the stare of horror.

I grabbed the one front leg that had made it out

And pulled and pulled and we both fell.

Rain began to beat down

Her body heaved and squeezed

Her baby, its life­less tongue lolled out.

As I lay on my back on the ground for the first time

In a long, long time, with rain­drops falling on my face

I pulled and pulled once more and in a rush

Like an earth­quake or a heartbreak

The motion­less gor­geous dap­pled foal was free

Of her, of me, of the fence and rain, of earth.

I opened my mouth to the sky’s tears.

We all laid there in that stunned moment,

Both the liv­ing pant­i­ng, me crying.

It is the turn­ing I remember

She only raised her head again, stared

At what could nev­er be,

Then looked away

Out across the dark cedar thick­et and pine shadows

While I dragged myself to my feet

To stag­ger up to the house and cof­fee and shower.

I got ready and went on to work

Death school hav­ing let out early.

rita and her cowsRita Quillen’s nov­el HIDING EZRA, pub­lished in March 2014 by Lit­tle Creek Books, has a chap­ter includ­ed in the schol­ar­ly study of Appalachi­an dialect, TALKING APPALACHIAN, pub­lished by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ken­tucky Press. She also has a new chap­book SOMETHING SOLID TO ANCHOR TO (Fin­ish­ing Line 2014). One of six semi- final­ists for the 2012–14 Poet Lau­re­ate of Vir­ginia, she received a Push­cart nom­i­na­tion and a Best of the Net nom­i­na­tion in 2012. Cur­rent­ly, she’s work­ing on turn­ing her poems into songs. This poem is in her new col­lec­tion The Mad Farmer's Wife, due out in 2016 from Texas Review Press.

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One Response to The Mad Farmer's Wife Delivers the Foal, poem by Rita Quillen

  1. Cindy Banks says:

    Beau­ti­ful but sad…

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