I can tell you, when your horse began to slip
she tried to pull you and herself back up.
But once she slid and lost her footing,
you both fell into the law of gravity
and came down hard upon the rain-soaked grass.
And in that moment, under the shockwaves
of a cold calm, I froze then ran with fear
as the freeze-frames reeled out —
you lying, pinned to the ground,
bearing the weight of your fallen mare.
At your side, I looked into the flared
whites of your eyes and calling your name,
watched your body tremble then jolt into a fit.
My heart sunk with a despairing dread,
a silent scream — Not you, not now.
I stayed kneeling, wondering whether
you were holding your breath or trying to breathe.
I scanned for bruising, broken bones, for blood.
I counted the seconds of your oblivion
and in a blind panic, even thought of prayer.
But when your body discharged the last volt
with a kick and you spoke, surfacing to air,
I cupped my hands beneath your head,
spelling out the calm and colour of words.
As I held you on this side of the line that balances
love and loss with life and death, I pictured
your brother slipping by immeasurable degrees
through air and water, and thought of the ceaseless
eye of grief glaring at your mother and father.
By then, it didn’t matter that the stir
and gaze of onlookers had crowded in
or that the spinning blades of a helicopter
throbbed overhead. What mattered was closer
to ground, and that the names of those you called
were there or on their way. Your horse,
limping, pressed her nose through a huddle
of bystanders, and with all the common
naturalness that comes from the animal bond
of love and need, tenderly bent to sniff
at your face, as you lay there in the wet
like a newborn foal. Walking back to the spot
later and seeing the muddy relief of your heel
near the hoof prints that lead toward your own,
I stood weighing up the cost, wondering
if it was luck or misfortune, or whether the law
of averages was simply taking stock of its toll.
I thought of how lucky you were and despite
the risks, remembered your overriding words,
“It’s in my blood,” and how every bone
within you has been marrowed by what it loves.
- 96: NO THEME IXSUBMIT NOW with M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHCOMING SOON with M Takolaner 94: BAYTCOMING SOON with Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRO AUSTRALIANwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones