Post Road Magazine #30

Riding in the Back

Beth Gylys

The cat cries at the snapped tab of a can.
The baby reaches for the dangling key.
The man pours a drink when he hears
his mother's name. And you
think of horses when you ride in the back
of your father's Avalon, of galloping toward
each line of fence you drive past,
leaning forward, the leather reins
taut in your hands, the horse's outstretched
legs spewing chunks of turf.

You are carried within sound: hoof
and heart and wind, and as you reach
the line, you rise slightly, the horse slows,
gathers on its haunches, springs forward.
You cling to the beast and are flung
like a toy over each barrier, long
lengths of wood or wire. In your head
you gallop toward the next property
divider, then the next, even though
you have not stepped in a stirrup in years.

Pin Oak

Beth Gylys

It bends rooted in its fury
of silence, its trunk with not
one straight section,
its bark, gnarled and pocked.
You can't keep your eye
from the grotesque growths
that mar its surfaces:
raised elliptical scars
that look like the lips
of screaming mouths,
where limbs have been hacked off
or chewed loose by the wind's
invisible teeth. How
is it still standing with pale,
green sickly leaves
sprouting from branches
that miraculously drape
to the ground but still hold on?

It is like the man's body
so wracked and wrecked
by the years, his back cannot
unbend itself. The man
smiles as he tries to unfurl
above the insect-like
apparatus of a walker,
a figure who used to stand
six foot two, who could down
a tall pine with several
swift strikes from an ax,
who is my mother's father,
my grandfather, a man,
who, decades earlier would
enter a room and turn
every woman's eyes.

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