Christine Hemp

Issue #
October 3, 2017

Freezeout Ridge

Freezeout Ridge became the place I wed.

Silver­white, like the horse I rode in on.

Icy scree reminds me now of falling. (Who wouldn’t

fall for a horse like that?) Dappled loins, nostrils

big as pipes. I stole him and he stole me. Before

the snow, we galloped up that mountain

singing hallelujahs, scrabbling over streams,

vine maple turning red like hair

along the shoulder of that mountain (the only

jail my own pathetic dread). That horse knew

where to take me. I let him have his mouth,

reins slack, his back flat and grand.

The trail got lost but he did not. I hung on

for a life that doesn’t die with ice. I chomped

at the bit, sweating hard to melt the snow.

(Who can hold it all at bay?) It isn’t that winter

came and covered up the future. Nor did that horse

run blind and pitch me to the glacial runoff.

I made up a false story fraught with losing

until my horse shook his mane to tell me

the Chewack River’s gone, yes, the one we followed

that September afternoon. But no matter, he says,

the water’s still the same: just different riffles,

another shape. No time for falling. Climb on!

We’ll find the trail that lost itself.  We’ll give it back.

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