Donate! Support your community news.
Subscribe! News delivered to your inbox.

Wheel and Spin: a Poem by Nora Hutton Shepard

by | May 23, 2023

Tuesday. She called. Her voice sounded so close, Mom
            we loved our visit— we made it home. The horses are fine.
            And I left my wallet. That kind of call.

Her quick
call later: I’m off  to haul
                                                a horse to his owner—he has a trick;
                                                we can’t break it—it’ll make a nasty fall,
                                                that wheel and spin. Mom, he’s wicked.

Friday. She answered on the first ring.
but couldn’t really talk. The chestnut gelding
had a swollen knee, was tied in the wash stall. Call later.

She liked
to chat, liked our long conversations
about each horse, their care: Spike,
and Naughty, Harry, their conversions
from racehorses to jumpers. Their fright:

brush fences, cows and goats in neighbors’ fields, the creeks.
             On Monday I missed her. She’s in the barn.
             The gray threw a shoe, her husband told me.

Wednesday I called. We commiserated about the weather,
              and I asked about her horse, Favor, the bay
              I had forgotten to ask about the week before.

                                                Oh Mom
                                                They came to put him down.
                                                We had to shoot him—it’s like a bomb
                                                still in my head. Can’t talk now—
                                                He’s gone she whispered. Mom.

In my mind I could see her boy, her thoroughbred in the turnout,
             her evening ritual of gathering him in for warmed beet pulp
             and molasses, his breath visible in the cold. His soft muzzle.

I’m thrown. A spin I can’t ride. The reins I thought I held
              slid through my hands. The ways she had described him to me
              all paid out. What can I say? Tell her? She’s grown and far away—Oh

                                                    his way
                                                    of bucking for joy, free, as though
                                                    fences were air. He lies, for now, and all their days,
                                                    on the mountain. Hawks and bob-cats, a slow
                                                    rain in his pasture full of round bales, his hay.

So much I can’t know. The calls that won’t mention him. How many horses
               have I held for her to mount? But not my hand on any.

Nora Hutton Shepard

Nora Hutton Shepard is a poet and alumna of N.C. State’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing program, as well a graduate of the MFA Writer’s Program at Warren Wilson College. She taught poetry courses at N.C. State before relocating to Davidson in 2019 to be closer to her daughter’s family. Nora has quickly acclimated to life in Davidson and is a wonderful addition to our Community.

Support Your Community News