Her lips like a puckered kiss,
My hand cupped,
an offering of seeds—
corn, wheat and oats.
The old chestnut mare slid into my arms and I slid on her back.
Wearing her white socks and a pair of steel-toed shoes,
she was good for nothing really, except for 
racing nose-down as if we had entered the Kentucky Derby. 
No one was placing bets on us out there on the back forty.
Didn’t matter---we always won. Then one random day, 
with no thought of past nor future, 
I left her behind the gate, locked the chain,
turned my back on Xanadu
and lost my freedom.
       ----Deanne Moore 

I was writing from a prompt this week on the word freedom. The idea was to dig deep into memories and connect the word with something from the past. I’m not sure why I went to the memory of the last horse that was “mine.” She was tall, close to 17 hands. I couldn’t get on her without a shove on my backside. If no one was around, I’d stand on a overturned bucket and throw myself over her back before I straddled her wide girth. She looked to be part workhorse, part quarter horse with a good confirmation and stout, but pretty. Xanadu was a gentle, agreeable sort. I remember afternoons when I’d slip on her bridle and ride her bareback through the pastures out behind the house. We would run and wander around in the slow afternoon and get lost together. There are no guidelines for bareback riding. You do it because you want to and because you can—freedom. That kind of experience shouldn’t be taken for granted.

But I did take it for granted. I realized as I was writing about Xanadu that I had not a clue what happened to her. I don’t remember the last time I rode her or when she left the small pasture out back where the horses were kept. I just grew up and went on. All these years later how I wish I could crawl on her back again, grab a fistful of her wiry mane in my hand and head out into the pastures.

It occurred to me how we lose things when we aren’t thinking, when we aren’t connecting our experiences to what is important. I was a teen. Life ahead was calling me. Apparently, the call was so great that I just turned and walked away from the life I had. There was no closure, no appreciation for what had brought me to the place to move on. It wasn’t a good transition because the transition wasn’t acknowledged.

I do feel regret over not ever knowing what happened to Xanadu. Maybe, I did know when she was sold and have forgotten? I hope so.


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