“Forgiveness, Horse!”-Richard II
We drag snappers in seines all day through muckThick enough it’ll steal a shoe if you let it.
The beaver-sticks prick our pale white legs that flashLike fish under pond water. Minnows flash like memory.
We piss in our shorts, eat roast beef waist-deep in water.We repair the snags with twine from the glove box.
The minnows we sell to Jerry’s, the sharp beaked turtlesAre thrown in the road and run over with the pickup.
One day when we’re dragging, the storm crawls upOn its belly through the prairie grass and milky sunlight,
So we go below and press our cheeks to the cellarGlass, milky too, with hard-water from the sprinkler,
And the old horses head for the trees, where they knowShelter, which we know is shelter too. The young horse
Whirls in the corral, paws as if snake-bit, runs headlongThrough the barb-wire fence, wraps her neck like a spool
Of thread, wound with our own hands. We ask if she believesIn forgiveness, if there will still be blood after the rain stops.
We learn to measure time by hoof-beats, recite love splintingA chicken-hawk’s wing, the same that took two hens already
We ask the rendering man if death can be understood,So he shows us the hooked sow that has eaten her young. [End Page 58]
J.P. Grasser is originally from Maryland. His work explores the diverse regions he has called home, most insistently his family’s fish hatchery in Brady, Nebraska. He studied English and Creative Writing at Sewanee: The University of the South and is currently an MFA student in poetry at Johns Hopkins University. His work has appeared in, or is forthcoming from, The Journal, Ninth Letter, Nashville Review, and Harpur Palate, among others.