The Wild Horses of Cumberland Island
by Elizabeth Joy Levinson
In the morning, they greeted us,
grazing in the shade of the field house
at the dock.
They were not the pasture-fed
thoroughbreds of the Midwest,
their hides were pocked with scars
whorls of hair around sores or ticks,
thin manes twitched as flies circled the air
around their ears.
They were indifferent.
A stallion, two mares,
only the yearling paid any notice
as I left the boat and approached,
she tossed her head, nostrils flaring,
she pranced around the elders nervously,
and when they failed to react, she came
near to me. We were five feet apart,
and her sleek chestnut coat was still
unmarred by the elements.
She stepped closer; one, two
I was afraid to stay, I was afraid to move,
I was so worried about what would come next,
and I regret I can't remember
if her forelock was white,
if the hair hung in her eyes,
or if she quietly whinnied
as the stallion finally regarded me
with a snort of disgust
that called her back
into his modest harem.
Elizabeth Joy Levinson lives, teaches, and writes on the west side of Chicago. She has an MFA in Poetry from Pacific University and an MAT in Biology from Miami University. Her work has appeared in several journals, including Grey Sparrow, Up the Staircase, Apple Valley Review, and Hawk and Whippoorwill. Her chapbook, As Wild Animals, is available through Dancing Girl Press.