Fall 2009 / Issues / Poetry 2009 / Volume 40

Scratch Pegasus — Stephen Kessler

Scratch Pegasus. Last week in a workout

the exercise boy—a girl from the North Bay who dropped

out of school to ride poetry—

heard under the colt’s hoofbeats

a rhythm that didn’t scan, that seemed

to lift off the track at odd intervals

and soar into the morning light

for long caesuras

between hitting the turf with a rumbling report

that seemed to sound for its own sake instead of speed–

the horse, she said, was spooked

but in a way she’d never felt before

under her boots, under her floating

butt in the saddle which had the feeling

of flying just as the sun was climbing

the sky behind the backstretch and the scent

of roses out of nowhere

knocked her off center and she fell,

but the horse kept rising—

now she could see him sailing above the stables

as his trainer dropped the stopwatch

and drew his cellphone to dial 911

while the beautiful animal cleared the hills

and banked downtown as if drawn by the smell

of dusty books in some secondhand store

where unpublished poets browse in hopeful despair,

looking for lines that will take flight

out of an otherwise ordinary page

and singe their lips with the grace of revelation

that transcends speed or any race

to succeed. Scratch Pegasus.

He wins by disappearing into the sky.

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