That Huge Engine

“We just stood therein stunned silence. We couldn’t believe it. The heart was perfect.” * 

Before there was Secretariat, there was the 60s. 
I pressed my awkward girl body to the speaker, 
To the unholy events that marked us. 
10,000 planes shot down and my mother’s bare lips 
Pressed together in grief. 
The world shed that decade as I shed my girl skin, 
Took refuge in a dusty barn where Jose and Luis 
Carried water and photos of their babies 
In Mexico. Talk of the big chestnut 
On everyone’s lips. 
We worked hard that day and left early, 
The one and only time we ever did. 
Raced home to watch the big chestnut 
Moving like a tremendous machine, 31 lengths ahead, 
Jockey looking over his shoulder in disbelief. 
Jose and Luis in the tack room with a transistor 
Seeing as a blind man sees baseball, vivid, 
The big chestnut a fiery comet of sinew, muscle, and bone. 
Us in the living room, stunned and breathless. 
That huge engine powering us all home. 

*  Dr Thomas Swerczek, head Pathologist at the University of Kentucky, while performing a necropsy onSecretariat.

NB: It’s hard to format poetry on WordPress, (OK, hard for me anyway). And it really doesn’t display well on a phone. So, if you want to see what this poem should look like, please view it on a computer or iPad.

One thought on “That Huge Engine

  1. One of my earliest crushes. Maybe this is where I first acquired my love of chestnut horses. Not that I love the others any less. His spirit lifted us all. You capture this so beautifully. Thanks, Abby.


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