A Poem For Saturday


“Gus Speaks” by Maxine Kumin

I was the last of my line,
farm-raised, chesty, and bold.
Not one of your flawless show-world
forty-five pound Dalmatians.
I ran with the horses, my darlings.

I loped at their heels, mile
for mile, swam rivers they forded
wet to the belly. I guarded
them grazing, haloed in flies.
Their smell became my smell.

Joyous I ate their manure.
Its undigested oats
still sweet, kept me fit.
I slept curled at the flank
of the fiercest bloodmare.

We lay, a study in snores
ear flicks and farts in her stall
until she came to the brink,
the birth hour of her foal.
Then, she shunned me cruelly.

Spring and fall I erred over
and over. Skunks were my folly.
Then, I was nobody’s lover.
I rolled in dung and sand.
When my heart burst in the pond,

my body sank and then rose
like a birch log, a blaze
of white against spring green.
Now I lie under the grasses
they crop, my own swift horses

who start up and spook in the rain
without me, the warm summer rain

(From Where I Live: New & Selected Poems 1990-2010 by Maxine Kumin © Maxine Kumin. Used by permission of W.W.Norton & Company. Photo by Flickr user ferran pestaña)