Writers Reading: Caroline Malone

Caroline Malone

Turn Out

Months he has been mine,
weeks of slogging through the rutted mud,
muck boots caked, slipping and sticking
in the drenched earth after hours of rain
saturated ground glutted with manure,
days of sweat in the damp thick air,
first chasing and cornering, next sweet talking
then sinking to the sparse brittle timothy
waiting out his stubborn or mischievous moods,
halter over my shoulder and the lead
stained with blood from my sliced flesh
where his brute bucking ripped the rope across my palm.
Leading him on the gravel lane lined
with the same damn scrubby pines that harbor
beasts, antediluvian creatures ready to pounce;
he rolls his eyes, stiffens his ears, jigs into my side
coming close to knocking me flat. But I coo,
stroke his withers, throw back my shoulders
and walk with purpose as he picks up his pace.
Brush and clusters of late blooming heal-all
yield to a breeze, flutter and settle
when a starling darts from the hedge
into our path. We start and stop, trying to follow
its flight as it glides and dips to the hilltop beyond
and spreads its dark wings into the spaces there.


Caroline Malone teaches composition and literature at South College in Knoxville, Tennessee. Her poems have appeared in Boulevard, Ten Mile, and The Dos Passos Review.

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