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Farmer’s Wife to Farmer

by Shannon Castleton

Even death is music. You pretend not to hear
because I walked alone, past your red-
stained boots dropped at the gate, to the river
where the colt was bloated
in a cleft of mud and branches.
I think I had dreamed her there.

Last night I listened to the mare,
the sky held by a whole note moon.
Birth rang from her ears in staccato
twitches. A thin wet leg slipped
from inside her like a key
to her warm treasure. I locked
the gate beside the river. I buried
in the field the triplet lambs you left
rotting in the pasture.

Morning, I left your red hands, still hot
with the day’s long slaughter, to find
the new foal cold in the river, her eyes
watered open in blue octaves of light—
too early still, for magpies.
But I could hear her dying
in the clean current that skimmed
over her lips and nostrils—
low tones of rocks and branches.
Even the rests were death to me.