Jenny came to us by surprise.
Grandpa brought her up the hill
at twilight, to pasture her for the summer.
He borrowed her from his friend,
Diana, who raised show horses.
Jenny was a Morgan horse, he said.
Muscles in her haunches bigger
than all of ours.
“Cinch her up and climb on,”
She let me sit on her back
and did what I told her to do
with my voice or the leather reins,
the only creature in my life to do both,
as if we both wanted it this way.
The first time I saw Jenny,
she was backing out of a horse trailer,
resonant hooves on the truck bed,
all muscle and black mane.
The first time I touched her was the first time
I really felt a horse,
her sleek brown skin rippled
because she was alive underneath.
The first time I fed her an apple
she chewed like a lady,
with her mouth closed,
but the sound echoed through her head
like sounds in an underground cave
that had no visible end.
All the while, deep brown eyes
were at the back of that cave,
not focused on me
but seeing my young uncertainty,
my curious hopes,
my scrawny legs hoisted up over her.
She let me sit on her back.