Horses

By MATTHEW GELLMAN

 

Sitting in her mother’s white wooden chair

my mother eyes me up and down, tells me

the medication I’m taking is making me fat

but yes, I know you need it. Like lipstick

smudged on a glass, she studies my hairline,

my father’s nose. I will never be her daughter.

I will always be her almost-beautiful son.

But as she stands to dump wine in the sink

and the flurry outside morphs into blizzard,

how could she know that my mind’s shaved horses

are out stampeding again. How could she know

that when I see them each night, in a dripping

brocade of meadow, I learn again how pain

becomes easy when administered by so much beauty,

how the sandhills draped in locusts step off

into silence before they step into madness,

how the goathead tied to the alder

no longer needs to have a body to sing.

How the landscape assembles itself

as if it were real, because it wants to be real,

how the body tries and tries and tries

to attach to the flowering hook of the sun,

and the horses don’t sit with me, they don’t

tell me anything. They carry me out to the lake

and they trample me down in the water

until they know I am finally still.

 

 

Matthew Gellman poems are featured or forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, Narrative, Ninth Letter, Passages North, Lambda Literary’s Poetry Spotlight, The Cortland Review and elsewhere. He has received awards and fellowships from the New York State Summer Writers Institute, the Academy of American Poets and the Vermont Studio Center, and was awarded a Brooklyn Poets Fellowship in the fall of 2018. He was also included in Narrative’s “30 Below 30” list in 2018. Matthew holds an MFA from Columbia University and currently teaches at Hunter College. He lives in Brooklyn.

[Purchase Issue 17 here.]

Whitney BrunoHorses

Related Posts

Campus Aerial

Honoring Amherst Writers

For Amherst College's fourth annual LitFest, The Common put together a Literary Landmarks tour of Amherst College, highlighting locations on campus with special connections to literary figures affiliated with the college, from Robert Frost to Lauren Groff. Building on that effort, we've compiled a list of pieces published in The Common that were written either by or about Amherst professors, alums, and even current students.

We Shall Be a Country with No History

AATISH TASEER
It was black American writing, and the black American experience more generally, that first alerted me to the presence of history in America. It made the TV-prepared reality I inhabited less flat; it was my first intimation of something tragic and complex... 

suburb

What My Father Said

DIANA BABINEAU
You go where you belong, my father says to me, / ten years old, listening at bedtime to his story / about how he once was mugged in Brooklyn / in 1974, a small, polite Canadian / trying to buy gas and a Coke. Like here, he meant, / this neighborhood where crime is low...