Inventing a horse is not easy.

One must not only think of the horse.

One must dig fence posts around him.

One must include a place where horses like to live;


or do when they live with humans like you.

Slowly, you must walk him in the cold;

feed him bran mash, apples;

accustom him to the harness;


holding in mind even when you are tired

harnesses and tack cloths and saddle oil

to keep the saddle clean as a face in the sun;

one must imagine teaching him to run


among the knuckles of tree roots,

not to be skittish at first sight of timber wolves,

and not to grow thin in the city,

where at some point you will have to live;


and one must imagine the absence of money.

Most of all, though: the living weight,

the sound of his feet on the needles,

and, since he is heavy, and real,


and sometimes tired after a run

down the river with a light whip at his side,

one must imagine love

in the mind that does not know love,


an animal mind, a love that does not depend

on your image of it,

your understanding of it;

indifferent to all that it lacks:


a muzzle and two black eyes

looking the day away, a field empty

of everything but witchgrass, fluent trees,

and some piles of hay.

  • Meghan O’Rourke, "Inventing a Horse" from Halflife. Copyright © 2007 by Meghan O’Rourke.  Reprinted by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

  • Source: Halflife (W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 2007)

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