Last night I dreamed of horses, running towards me on an open field, wild things, tossing their manes in a rhythm of tempestuous waves on the open sea, tails whipping like tattered flags, louder and louder the pulse of primordial drums until I feel the earth trembling beneath my still feet as I wait for them to near. They close in, mob about me, as they’ll tend to do when they see me out on pasture. Coming not for treats as that’s not my thing, but as children vying for attention, of which I still never have enough to satisfy them or myself.
Long noses, round brown eyes and prickly hairs under the round balls of their chins. Their scent a pacifying perfume, a mix up of memories of leather, sweat, and sweet grass. I try to comfort them in turn, a gentle touch on the firm flat space on the side of their necks where my fingers hide beneath the shadow of their manes, or a soothing stroke starting just above their eyes and rubbing in a line down the front of their extended noses, feeling the weight and density of bones beneath, so close to the surface, the skull I am too familiar with after seeing the remains of plenty who have passed before me, with me, near me, in my arms.
I slide onto Crow’s back (clearly a dream, for little as the horse may be, the older I become, the harder mounting bareback becomes) easing my leg over his back and hoisting myself upright with my hands pressing against his withers. There, where I am comfortable, comforted, where I have spent so many hours before. My buttocks firmly planted in the center of his back, a perfect fit, my thighs wrapping around and down in the hollow between scapula and ribs, lower legs draping below his belly, my boots loose and relaxed, suspended as if weightless and barely attached. I reach forward and touch the poll framed between his pointy ears, a window through which I’ve seen so many mountains and trails. I lean further, run my hands down his neck and around in a knotted embrace, my chest to his neck, my nose deep into his mane. And we stand there, nothing more, me on he, my patient horse awaiting word of what I want, and yet I want no more than to be there with him. Soft and smooth and gentle on his warm back while the others mill about, contented simply to be there too.