by Donna J. Gelagotis Lee

Ten in a ring. Trot. Waalk. We space
ourselves, ready for the instructor’s
commands and comments. Our horses

have heard them before, most likely,
even perhaps today. Our horses obey
us. And when the horses are without us,

who obeys them? Do the mice stay
clear of their feet? Does the mare
obey the stallion? In the pasture,

does the wind yield to their gallops;
does the grass bend to meet
their muzzles? Who obeys whom,

or what? We enter the ring.
We make paths in that circle. It is all
an exercise. We have built up our muscle,

fine honed our balance, tuned our sense
of touch. We learn our horse’s stride. We
space ourselves, pace our mounts.

The ring is a round of pounded dirt,
and dust kicked up. Dust up my nose.
Dust in my lungs. Just as it is in the horses’.