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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, October 9, 2017.
About this Poem 
“Last summer, we had to say goodbye to the beloved horse who had been part of our family for sixteen years. It was Donovan who taught my daughters to ride.”
—Linda Gregerson
 

Narrow Flame

Sun at the zenith. Greening
            earth.
  Slight buckling of the left
 
hind leg. And all this while
            the girl
  at his ear good boy and now
 
the hip giving way and mildly as
            was ever
  his wont the lovely
 
heft of him lists toward the field
            that minutes 
  ago was still so sweet for 
 
grazing and good boy and on the
            ground 
  now where the frightening 
 
last shudder of lungs that we’ve been 
            warned about
  does thank you darling does 
 
not come and feeling for a pulse 
            no pulse
  and warning us touching 
 
the liquid eye which does not 
            close which
  means the slender needle with
 
its toxic everlastingness has done
            its job 
  good boy unbuckling the
 
halter lifting the beautiful head
            to her 
  lap and all this while the girl
 

Copyright © 2017 by Linda Gregerson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 9, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Linda Gregerson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 9, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Linda Gregerson

Linda Gregerson

Linda Gregerson’s book Waterborne won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Prize, and her book The Woman Who Died in Her Sleep was a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. She currently serves as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

by this poet

poem

        Linda,
said my mother when the buildings fell,

before, you understand, we knew a thing
        about the reasons or the ways
       
        and means,
while we were still dumbfounded, still

bereft of likely narratives, we cannot
       

poem
          1

The world's a world of trouble, your mother must
                    have told you
          that. Poison leaks into the basements

and tedium into the schools. The oak
                    is going the way
          of the elm in the upper Midwest—my cousin

earns a living by taking the dead ones
poem

                                   1.

The backstory’s always of hardship, isn’t it?
                       No-other-choices and hoping-for-better
            on foreign shores. A minute ago, as measured

by the sand dunes here, the shipping lanes were thick
                       with them