Bridle by Anna Welch

You have a stampede of horses trapped inside you,
the doctors say, the scientists say. They want to cut me open.

Extract the stampede of Lipizzaner stallions
thundering through, then sew me up right and decent.

I tell them there was a man. That he buckled a saddle to each ventricle
and turned, and ran, and didn’t look back. That I let him.

They say: If only I’d been the most beautiful thing.
If only I’d been something certain, like a hoof striking shale.

I could argue. Say prayer can turn you into something new.
Had I gotten to my knees before him.

But there are some things a woman never speaks of.
Open wide, they say and I bare my teeth.

Open wide, and they push down on my tongue
with a piece of wood that weighs half as much as a page

ripped from some bible. We’re all allotted our time to be holy.
A horse leaps above ground, becomes buttress,

becomes horse again. I fathom being both the rider and the ridden.
When they leap together it’s considered majestic.

Without a rider, it’s just an animal lost to the wildest corners
of a pasture. There is beauty there, too, or so I’ve heard,

where the tall grass says your name, continues to say and to say it
as you carry yourself through.



Anna Welch’s work has appeared in Barrow Street, Crab Orchard Review, Linebreak, and other publications.