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The Sorrel
By Laird Barron

father enjoyed the feel of a handle in his hand.
ring finger swollen at the knuckle,
old calcium from the day he punched a horse;
a sorrel anchored in mud.
miserable weather, hoof planted like a pillar
on his boot, driven down through sucking
clay while it rained slantwise and found
the seams in his poncho.
father was not a man of temperance.
he hauled winter-fattened beaver from the creek,
skinned them on our kitchen table cut from a sign
lettered: welcome to alpine acres. it sagged
beneath the weight of those musky carcasses.
he worked in shirtsleeves, guiding coils
of quivered braid from their cradle into a bucket.
mom fried pancakes on the barrel stove.
she always ordered him to wash his hands in the
snow bank. he obeyed, but his eyes never melted.
when the sorrel broke a leg, father put the bullet
in her. i think he wept.
none of us knows for certain. we had chores.

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Document last modified on: 01/12/2002

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