Ross White

Long Marriage

It’s less important when the horse rears
and whinnies than why. Years in the field
should have taught me, yet still I attune

my hands and neck to the moment when fear
surges in the stallion. Today by the creek
a sunning cottonmouth startled, and the horse

lurched so hard he nearly threw me,
Though I didn't see the snake, I felt
in sinew and shock his presence. I tried

to take the shape of sunlight, of warm
rain, of anything he could not toss
from his croup when he leapt in terror—

                     Love, in me there is a similar stirring,
                     though it snarls in place of a whinny
                     when it rears and you are the snake.

                     But more commonly, you are the plain
                     through which I trot, the endless length of you,
                     a horizon magnificent and unattainable.


Ross White is the director of Bull City Press, an independent publisher of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. He is the author of Charm Offensive, winner of the 2019 Sexton Prize, and three chapbooks: How We Came Upon the Colony, The Polite Society, and Valley of Want. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, New England Review, Ploughshares, Poetry Daily, Tin House, and The Southern Review, among others. He teaches creative writing and grammar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and co-hosts The Chapbook, a podcast devoted to tiny wonderful things. Follow him on Twitter: @rosswhite