I was taught beauty
By the shape of the horse:
The flow of the mane;
The rise of the withers;
The soft hill of rump.
Pictures – cut out and pasted
Into Grandmother’s green folder:
Of right ways and wrong ways,
Of tight elbows and tucked pelvis,
Of chin up and heels down,
Of eyes between his ears –
Watching; ever watchful.
By the color of the horse:
Black, chestnut, dapple gray,
Paint, appaloosa, common bay.
The snip, the star, the blaze;
The blue-eyed, piebald face.
By the pieces of the horse and how they fit:
Conformed; not confirmed.
And yet … good conformation is confirmation of balance and performance.
Where correctness means equal distribution
In function and form.
By the order of
Groom before saddle and,
Ride before grain and,
Never canter back to paddock
For horses – like people – learn
To run toward quitting time,
And miss excellence to the end.
By the soundness
Because to founder hurts the mount.
Learn early to feel for heat in
Hoof, pastern, fetlock, cannon.
Foreign words of secret parts
Made familiar by necessity.
Lest you lose your favorite seat to
The liquid in the syringe that stops the pain and ends
By that day in the kitchen
In the house on the hill.
When, in passing, she reached out
And with her hand gave me a pat.
“You have a nice rump,” she said
And laid down for a nap.
In the dusk of her years,
Every beast bedded down,
Confirmed by the shape of the horse.
WRITE CHALLENGE: How did you learn the definition of beauty? Share your story in the comments below.