The Assembly of Hooves

The Assembly of Hooves
by A.C. Harwell
It is the cornice that separates us in the tilled garden when you
dance across the carrot patches, blow smoke through the soil,
the hooves arriving before dawn. We separate like the kite from
the sky, the innocent from the assembly of hooves. The experience
of the unquiet tension, the obedience of that spotted elephant in
the glass case, squandering its time.
The Jewish mother wakes her child under layers of snow, begins the pot
boiling on dried drift wood and clay with fireweed, ringed seal liver, watching
her son. His eyes blink under the glint of sun. Crusts of snow that manipulate
russet curls rising from his forehead with all the obedience of an elephant in
water, an elephant under water — the animals whose underbellies
blink fluorescent.
What of the Indian grandfather letting lights fall from his hands on the veranda,
leaving the cows in the mud, enticing the tiny plastic bulbs to flame like lamps.
Watching the children gather mulled cider, droplets of water collecting
on the electric insect lamps that send lightning through their ears and jaws with every
myrtle moth. The girls wrap wire around their fingers and scrape
their knees on the cement steps, listening towards
the north, wishing for auroras, ice caves, and mothers.

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