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The Mongolian New Year in a Jeep, Following the Children’s Horse Race

by Erin Thomas


It was Tsaagan Sar
and the children heralded
the year of the dragon.
On saddles singing, they whipped
their horses across the plain;
a young horseman swung,
curbing the bolting horses, the whip dancing.

With whirling grace
he owned the wildness of the frozen pasture,
and with his daring drew my breath.
Our driver kept pace, alongside
the sweating horses, and children yelping.
As they neared their parents clapped.

My mouth was close
on the icy window, clouding
the horseman as he hustled up the rear.
We parked, he passed
I loved his agility, tasting the salience
of a wildness enigmatic
to pretense and my intellectuality.

I imagined his body sore from riding,
eyes lazily on the fire,
his mind rising beyond the smoke
that drifted from the ger.

Tipping a bowl, he nurses
on fermented mare’s milk,
sucking through his teeth.

I leaned against the jeep, wishing
to be wife to wildness
with the children riding.
Growing younger
with the year of the dragon,
my horseman and I sharing our wildness
over the frozen pasture, singing.