Girlhorse

By Townsend, Alison | Frontiers - A Journal of Women's Studies, September 2002 | Go to article overview

Girlhorse


Townsend, Alison, Frontiers - A Journal of Women's Studies


 
Girlhorse 
 
Alison Townsend 
 
 
There was a time, before breasts, 
before blood flowed, before boys' bodies 
made me too aware, when I was a girihorse, 
a shiny black filly with a lilt to her gallop, 
dressed in a blaze and two pairs 
of white stockings. 
 
My friends Kathy and Nan 
were horses too, and we vaulted 
over stone walls together, our manes 
floating like silk in the breeze. 
 
We straddled branches, urged ourselves on 
with whips of peeled willow, 
neighed, and pawed at the macadam 
with hooves that rang like iron. 
We were clover thunder together. 
We were stampeding magic. 
We were sweaty creatures 
no one could understand. 
 
Then my friends got real horses 
and didn't need to play, occupied 
by gymkhanas, the North Salem Hunt Club, 
and the beautiful palomino and bay, 
whose muzzles felt soft as down 
against my cheek when I nickered to them 
in the tongue of our ancestor, Eohippus. 
 
I carried on alone for a while, 
galloping down Keeler Lane to the school bus, 
whinnying at horses confined in their paddocks, 
tossing my tangled braids fiercely, 
until it got too hard by myself 
and the ways of horses dissolved 
like the first bloodstains 
I washed from my jeans in cold water. … 

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