Jumping on a Narcoleptic Horse
This is not a metaphor. It is a truth
told me by a girl who rides her neighbor’s horse.
She was approaching the low jump
on Sandman, 17 hands high,
when he fell asleep. She came to,
flung on a bale of straw, great horse legs
buckled beside her. He was breathing deeply –
maybe dreaming. Then calmly,
he stood up. It had never happened
during exercise before. No one
was to blame. It was very rare, they said
and after all, she wasn’t hurt.
I, of course, seized the curious tale
for my own: an irresistible metaphor
for beautiful, ascendant leaps
thwarted by mystery;
life suddenly stalling and unseating you,
just when you are about to vault; or
the larger force that carried you
suddenly needing your care –
I could go on. Jumping
on a narcoleptic horse
is nothing a poet can toss away.
But thinking of its actual,
wondrous oddity and grace – picturing
the fence, sky, grass and muscle, surge
of weightless blood, flight
arrested -- easy metaphor diminishes
the girl gripped forward, the great steed arced
mid-air -- then flying off to sleep.