Wheel and Spin: a Poem by Nora Hutton Shepard
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.
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.
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.
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
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.