Again the peaceful munching, back teeth grinding sideways, fronts cutting off the excess, lips drawing in stray wisps of grass hay. The new horse nuzzles deep into the pile, searching for the prime leaves of alfalfa—dessert mixed in with dinner, any kid’s dream. And this, my dream.
Reading aloud to this horse what I wrote yesterday, I hear in my voice that of the wistful dreamer of yesteryear. That girl who sat in the back row, farthest from the teacher, closest to the window, daydreaming. And then she wrote.
She wrote stories of wild horses galloping over hills she had never seen—the open rolling prairie flowing across the pages like water, like horses. The horses wild, yet tame to her, so that she rode among them astride a buckskin mare. Or a black stallion she named Night Wind—I have that story still, its pages charred and warped from the fire that burned my mother’s house to the ground, me in college, my books, journals, and stories packed so tightly in a cardboard box that the fire could not destroy them, nor did the water that destroyed the fire.
That girl who rode in story across the plains was destroyed by an internal fire of her own, leaving the dreamer behind as I rode away on another kind of horse. How is it that forty years later I sit before a munching mustang, his chewing and sweet breath and occasional soft blowing bringing forth the girl in me? The dreamer in me. Is it just peace that does this, pulls me from the chaotic current of my life into the slow flatwater between rapids? Or is it that I have in this horse an excuse to sit still, a reason to write that’s important enough that I am actually writing? Or is writing still just dreaming in a different form?