What month and year did you start writing this poem? I’m guessing it was written in maybe June 2012 or January 2013.
I don’t remember what the lines were, just some unnecessary details. I didn’t need to carry the image for several lines, as I had originally done, when only a couple were needed. The duck image wasn’t important except as comparison and progression, and focusing on it too heavily was confusing for the reader. I think I had originally dwelt on that outside image too heavily in order to delay getting to the more painful material.
What do you want readers of this poem to take from this poem? I wrote this poem largely to help process some of the guilt I felt about the horse’s death and to release some of the images that were still so clear. I imagine most people have, at some point, experienced the loss of a companion animal. They are such a large part of our lives, we shouldn’t feel embarrassed about grieving them, or feel that one’s grief is more consuming than it “should” be.
I’ve had closer relationships with my horses than I have had with most people; a person and horse can really get to know each other, to the point their interactions are downright telepathic. Owning an animal also comes with a great deal of responsibility, including that of deciding life or death, because we have created a world in which they cannot care for themselves—and that means we must do it.
Their lifespans are generally shorter than ours; maybe we’re there at the beginning of their lives, as well as the end, and we’re all they ever know. I knew it was ridiculous for me to carry guilt over doing what my vet had advised me was the kindest and most responsible thing to do for my horse. I could see it myself. It was the perceived betrayal of trust that hit me so hard, and that was because I was imagining it from the horse’s perspective and reading my own interpretations into the horse’s viewpoint. The horse himself likely didn’t have any such concerns. I want the reader to see that, by the end of the poem, there isn’t anything else to be done. It’s not good or bad. The poem does not embellish or try to teach a lesson. All it does is tell what happened. And that is also how an animal would likely experience it, too—with practicality, a view of the moment itself, not its implications.
Her chapbook Amaranthine Hour received the 2012 Jacar Press Chapbook Award. Books include Recycled Explosions (Ink Brush Press, 2016), The Traveler's Guide to Bomb City (Purple Flag Press, 2017, winner of the 2017 PEN Southwest Book Award), and Maps of Injury (forthcoming in 2020 from Sundress Publications). She is a member of the editorial board of poetry journal One. She resides in Amarillo, TX, with her husband, five horses, a dog, three cats, a donkey, and a rabbit.