Paige Buffington

Issue #
February 18, 2013

The Skeletal System of the Family Horse

Two hundred five days  and a day  after another  death we tip-toed over sage,  first-snow  and sand  and
whispered, when the next person passes, you’re going to go with them. We were too young to know, but
old enough to pretend and old enough to appreciate every one of your breaths. Sometimes, in wintered-
down days, we’d whisper  it two,  four, twelve times  so we could watch you  create two clouds, contours
of grey,  sometimes blue and vanishing breath.  We got older and  knew better but once,  we pried  your
mouth open  with a frozen metal pipe,  covered your nose and brushed our palms over your tongue and
you barely budged, proving you were  and would always be braver and better than us.  Three days and a
day after,   everything grew older.  We appreciated health and time,  traced tendons from three spots on
your  barrel   to both  of your  shoulders  and,   after,   we called   you Orion.   Sometimes,  Milky  Way.
Sometimes, First Laugh.

Two hundred five days and a day later, I walk through a city and remember you.

Strangers,  stop and ask me  for a sound that’s more  beautiful than the push and  pull of a bow across
violin strings.  I’ll say sinew  and barbwire  stretching.  I’ll say the  scrape of sand  against  tongue and
tooth  and hoof.  Ask me for something more beautiful  than overflowing concert  halls and thousands
standing in applause.  I’ll tell you how we ran for miles,  extended our arms  between telephone poles,
pretended to  be as long,  as strong as every  electric cable  strung.  Ask me to tell you  something you
don’t know.  There were two hundred five telephone poles  between home and heaven. Before he died,
he knelt  beside every one of them saying they are some kind of  staircase and never forget  vibrations
they hum.  
Something you  don’t know?  A thousand  horse tails  are strung on bows  locked  inside a
thousand  violin cases.

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