James Tate 

When the horses arrived I was so happy. I put them out in
the field and they seemed to like it, except for the flies. Then,
later, I made sure they got fed. The pinto bucked up and kicked
the fence, which shocked me, but then everything was alright
again. Later, when they settled down for the night, there was a
sound like a snake hissing in one of the stalls, but I couldn’t find
anything. In the morning, when I left them out, the bay was
limping. I tried to examine her, but she kicked me in the head
and I was out for a good fifteen minutes before I woke. She was
alright by then. The sorrel had jumped the fence while I was
out and I went and got the truck. I found her about three miles
down the road. Someone in a truck or car had grazed her and she
was lying down by the side of the road. I managed to pull her up
and she made it up the plank into the back of the truck. When
I let her back in the pen, I realized her leg was broken and she
would have to be shot. The chestnut let out a loud whinny. The
roan walked over and stomped on my foot very deliberately. My
foot hurt, but, more importantly, my feelings were hurt. I really
wanted to make those horses happy. The pinto took off running
and crashed into the fence. The chestnut started chasing the
sorrel until the sorrel collapsed. My head was buzzing, my
stomach churning. The bay jumped over the tractor and was
headed right for me. I ran out of the pen and shut the fence.
The sorrel was suffering. I had to put her out of her misery. I
got my rifle from the house. I loved these horses, I really did,
but something wasn’t right with them. The chestnut wouldn’t
let me in the gate. The pinto started chanting in Latin. The roan
look like it had grown a horn in its forehead. I started firing
every which way, blind as a bat.


James Tate (1943–2015) was an American poet. He published over twenty books of poetry, and his work received the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award.