Talk To Me of Horses

Talk to me of horses
the young man says
thin locks of blonde matted
on a sweaty brow, flashes of blue
that fade as eyes succumb
to weariness, the constant
whoosh, whoosh of respirator.

Talk to me of horses:
the world is losing its grip
and I care not about
the weather or car mechanics,
but I dream of horses
and I am feeling so emotional –
help me understand.

So, I come daily to his bedside
wait for moments of lucidity
ponder the implications
of his questions, wrestle with
my own inadequacies –
I am merely student here.

We discuss horses –
the power of their bodies
their beauty and grace
their role throughout history –
decide they are ferrymen
transporting souls across worlds –
an explanation that satisfies, then…

I am seeing things, he strains
embarrassed even in these final hours
to describe what seems inconceivable,
between sleep and awake, figures
grey and frightening hover over
my bed like body snatchers….

A chill runs over me, as if icy
fingers have caressed my skin
and I shudder despite myself
scramble to maintain calm
wonder aloud if it is not just fear
projecting grey into light
clouding his vision.

I missed his passing the next day
arriving to find his mother waiting
He left you a message,” her eyes
quizzical, “says that you were right
about the visions; there was nothing to fear”

I smile through the grief –
ever the teacher that one
now dead at twenty-one

“Oh, and one more thing”, she adds “
“Could you talk to me of horses?”

(Talk to Me of Horses first appeared her in April 2018. This version has been edited slightly. Image my own.)


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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.

32 thoughts on “Talk To Me of Horses”

  1. VJ… this is so beautifully told, so very well-written. It’s such a difficult situation (bedside care for the dying) to describe, and yet we get all the glimpses and a positive message. And then a final question. The question we all yearn for when the world seems to be asking the wrong ones.
    What moves us? What brings joy? We need more of that, to move past fear, and connect with source, at the most challenging and transformative of times. So sorry for your loss. 💛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lia. Tyler, my young cousin, was the first experience I had of death. He taught me so much and I would go on to volunteer in palliative care for many years after. As you say there is both sorrow and gifts

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  2. Oh, that is a powerful poem, V.J. It brought me to tears. But that’s ok. It makes me think what I would want to talk about at the end. Thank you for giving me the chance to ponder that one.

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  3. Twenty-one so young, yet he had the maturity to ask for what mattered rather than rambling small-talk. Great that you two connected via the horses, assisting his transition. And then years later in Arizona, horses trigger your healing – different sort of transition. Horses carrying human energies? Makes me wish I could be up on one and ride, ride, ride …
    Your poem carries my imagination away! Glad you posted this today.

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    1. Thanks Jazz. He was a cousin. I was into the metaphysical and he was a budding physicist. We had great conversations leading up to his illness and I was honoured to spend the last three weeks of his life at his side. He knew he could speak to me of things beyond the mundane. Have been thinking much of those who have passed on lately (so many in my family) and horses just seem to tie in with in that.

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  4. This is an incredibly moving and powerful piece. About a fleetingly authentic vision of mortality and the only thing that can help us understand it deeply – love ❤️

    Reading this poem was like riding horses over the clouds

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Wow! Beautiful, powerful poem – and message! “Talk to me of horses” reminds me of a poem by Ada Limon (“Downhearted”), which ends : “What the heart wants? The heart wants / her horses back.”

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