Brown Study at Horseshoe Lake
We’re used to the points
of departure— departures water’s left expressing
anywhere where disrupted. We’re at the fitful
nature of a wake:
some hundred ducks on water, a gray
a wild enlargement of being
as he’s opened knifelike
into flight, lifting
exactly from the shallowed lake.
We’ll think from the other side
how far analogy
could hope to go—as when, at the earliest
damming of the brook, water had had
a shade in it like iron. Now,
across the surface, some tool
might have traced the tinted world
with frantically stilling lines. We’re coming
to the amulet
we wanted it to be. Around
this horseshoe nailed to sky, nailed to light
through the body of water,
it’s the walk
that opens out, the ring
we slip inside as if luck
could be placed
or worn into being.
It’s the wet, electric scent of thicket, a stony,
the grove of chosen trees, an equal
in the knobbed gloss
of cherry, the crabapples’
shrunken red, in a picture unsure
of its own perspective, yet perspectival
at its core.
Called to it late in the day,
we’re rounding off the differences, learning a curve
that doesn’t close,
a method for knowing
nothing for long—the one blur
of distinct trees
bluing to scalded periphery. Midway
a different century, heading for the fields
of a kneeling farrier,
have heard it ring.
The horse’s chestnut withers
flash like a mineral in the sun.
We’ll have it
this way or not at all, our animated
semblance of persistence,
hot, forged, cooled, and evidentiary.
It’s history we’re practicing
—or just a chancing
the charm each day from end
the weirdly rigorous dream
of falling or staying in love. What comes
behind us now
are vestiges that won’t catch up,
thin as leaf,
later than tied-down morning shadows, late
in the sense
that echoes count as late, calling themselves away
without a thing returning. To attach where it can
for a time
must be harder
for religion than it sounds: handmade
nails, handmade brooms and barrels, ingeniously
If we know
no Shakers anymore
it isn’t for want of trying. The strict
vow of celibacy
called for willing converts.
a kind of singing here.
they would have sized a horseshoe
to protect her, to improve a horse’s
gait, her conformation (how
she stands), to avert the possible
interferences, such as
when striding. Light
reversed from ice, should find the branches
bare, having nothing to light but bark.
But leaves this late
are penny-dark. The trees have contrary
leaves, and we look to find
them shining. Whoever found
must have lived this dream
of ample distance.
We’ll see your coyote
light as winter grass, sitting sentry
among our worlds, our shadows
by the howl
long enough to taper.
Sarah Gridely is an associate professor of English at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. She has published three books of poetry: Weather Eye Open (University of California Press, 2005), Green is the Orator (University of California Press, 2010), and Loom (Omnidawn Publishing, 2013). Her new manuscript, Insofar, was awarded the 2019 Green Rose Prize by Forrest Gander and will be published by New Issues Press in April 2020. Poems in Insofar received the 2018 Cecil Hemley Award and the 2019 Writer Magazine/Emily Dickinson Award from the Poetry Society of America.