The pregnant mare at rest in the field
the moment we drove by decided
to stand up, rolled her massive body
sideways over the pasture grass,
gathered her latticed spine, curved ribs
between the hanging pots of flesh,
haunches straining, knee bones bent
on the bent grass cleaved
astride the earth she pushed against
to life the brindled breast, the architecture
of the neck, the anvil head, her burred mane
tossing flames as her forelegs unlatched in air
while her back legs, buried beneath her belly,
set each horny hoof in opposition
to the earth, a counterweight concentrated there,
and by a willful rump and switch of tail hauled up,
flank and fetlock, her beastly burden, seized
and rolled and wrenched and winched the wave
of her body, the grand totality of herself,
to stand upright in the depth of that field.
The heaviness of gravity upon her.
The strength of the mother.
The Book of Men, the fifth collection of Dorianne Laux’s poems, is the winner of the 2012 Paterson Poetry Prize. The book is dedicated to Philip Levine; the poem “Mine Own Phil Levine” originally appeared in Valparaiso Poetry Review. Orion published “Juneau” (as “Juneau Spring”) and “Roots.” Willow Springs published “Staff Sgt. Metz,” along with a short essay about its creation.
(In 2007, Beatrice featured Laux’s “Moon in the Window.”)