I gallop bareback, a filly named Sally, matching her movement—weightless, face whipped by mane, nose filling with musky sweat, leather, manure. Sally’s hooves, throbbing claps. Blinding sun—
My shoulder bounces off rock, face splays in nettles, nose bleeds. Still. People stand
in horseshoe around me, lips moving.
Sally saw coiled snake, bucked.
Dragged to feet, let go, caught when knees betray. Tossed on Sally’s back behind trail boss Cindy. Hug Cindy around breasts. Clip-clop back to stable. Lean against manure heap, nap. Cindy hands me bourbon, bug juice, 3 Musketeers. Walk arm-in-arm to supper. Table mates complain. Fertile smell overwhelms mystery meat, grape nut pudding.
Cindy hauls me to bunkhouse. Next morning—swollen nose, right cheek purple, shoulder black-red-yellow. Shake my skull, hobble to stalls, muck. Feed horses hay, oats. Dump water trough, refill with hose.
Ride hillocks’ haze.