When our horses began retiring from the track, we tore out
the crabgrass with rubber kitchen gloves, watched the men unfold
endless fence, and begged our mother to take us to get apples before
the horses came. Something about legs and bloodlines. I learned
to braid for them on my dolls. We fed the horses apple slices,
baby carrots, palms flat. Never an hour of daylight without
a fruit shoved under their faces, never hungry enough to touch
whatever dry food sat in the bucket wired to the fence. They never
stood still long enough to braid plum ribbons in their manes
like the horses we saw at the winner's circle, rocking their heavy heads
so the twist of hair fell through our hands. In place of braids, I would
twirl the hair around my finger and warm it with the heat of my mouth,
gift them the makeshift curls I could form with the tips of pinkies.
Chrissy Martin is a PhD candidate at Oklahoma State University and a recent graduate from the Poetry MFA program at Columbia College Chicago. She also holds a BA in English from The University of Akron with minors in Creative Writing, Women’s Studies, and Popular Literature and Film. She is the Poetry Editor for Arcturus and has previously worked as an editor for Columbia Poetry Review and RHINO Poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Amazon's Day One, Voicemail Poems, MISTRESS, (b)OINK, and Lit.Cat.