She feels the pull of four heavy horses,
One tethered to each trembling limb.
With great, cup-shaped hooves they paw the dirt
And quivering, await the signal—
The signal to begin her ending.
Still as a photograph, she lies awake
Willing her molecules to cling together
—Please God, just a little while longer—
As she tries to conjure the music
That will calm these wild-eyed, heaving beasts
Threatening to tear her piece by piece,
Straining at twisted harnesses of
Fear, mistrust, anger, and bitter regret.
Already her seams are starting to fray;
Already her edges begin to blur. . .
How did this nightmare come to be
From childhood dreams of sun-dappled afternoons
And pony rides on sleepy, sway-backed roans?
She could swing so high her toes touched the clouds—
But the return to earth is cold and dark as blood.
Steady, she begs her body, steady now
And counts the long moments between each breath
—IN two… three… four; OUT six… seven… eight—
Her eyes are shut tightly against tears,
But her mouth still echoes bile and Prozac.
A few hours more and daylight will come,
Her fists will uncurl, the horses will stand down;
Reduced to nothing more than vapor
And the wish that tonight’s slumber might be
Accompanied not by a dirge, but a lullaby.