I watch them running in the dusk
Chestnut, white and gray.
That one old girl is way out front
She always gets her way.
Dry and spare, hot-blooded,
Desert in her blood and bone,
In these green Missouri pastures
That now call her their own
She runs connected to a world
She’s never even known.
A harsh mysterious sun-scoured land
Eliminates the weak.
Those survive and prosper
Who leave softness behind
In searing days and freezing nights
A pattern is refined.
From harshness came this beauty
This fire, this grace, this speed
Stripped of nonessentials
A message in this breed?
The cool of evening turns them on,
The gray mare takes the lead.
She has a single rival,
A tiny date brown sprite.
She’s got the speed but not the fire
The old gray owns the right
To choose the pace and choose the course
And thunder into night,
Streaming across the meadow
Flying manes and bannered tails
Float above the hoof beats,
Now the sunset pales.
Dimming light is stealing them,
Hoof beats fade away.
I watch them running in the dusk,
The gray mare leads the way.