After William Francis Calderon, On the Sea-Beat Coast, Where Hardy Thracians Tame the Savage Horse, 1905.
i bound until my ribs cracked like semicolons. until my chest caved in.
i fell off the horse and broke my neck.
pain has channelled a new, wet cave in the cliffside of my body.
aspiration chambers—heaving, frantic
alveoli with all their rushing pressure
small hemispheres and bellows of the chest, that ever-expanding organ.
i was a horse girl. once clung to the saddle of an old gelding named badger as he spooked and galloped. once went head-first over the neck of a shetland pony, landing in the dust.
my bare shoulders and butt cheeks are glowing
estrogen gave me [redacted] & [redacted]
testosterone gave me a thicket of chest & back & chin hairs
extended a thatch of pubic hair across my thigh & stomach & butt, like the wiry, curling hairs of a pony’s mane.
the night is the mare’s, dark, dark eyes
hooves kicking up a spray of stars into the sky
the moon is a pale, male asscheek
there is something so sexy about a person on a horse.
it’s the melding of person-and-animal for me
in2 one sleek and powerful being
limb to limb, bare behind to bare-back.
my bones are healing— reinforced by titanium. my chest is flat, as it was when i was 10 years old. my surgical scars glow. every cowboy has a horse-girl inside of him. the horse girl outstrips his ideal of masculinity by 100 yards. his raw, unglazed conclusion is a weaving together of girl and man.
Featured artwork courtesy of Mackelvie Trust Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki.