Old Horse

By Rebecca Reynolds Weil

September 18, 2023

Old Horse

His bones have a hold on the earth, with sinew and muscle built from the hills, corded and bunched over his shoulders and haunches. Along the edges of bramble rose and burdocks, he flushed wild turkeys into flight in front of him, like a ship scattering schools of fish before its bow. Gleams of deer, wide-eyed beneath the apple tree, would freeze in place—hocks cocked to run, green apples paused in their mouths—cupping our sound in their ears as we clattered by, all hooves and thunder over the ground.

Now, I look in his amber eye, I tell him it is ok, and say thank you, and say it is ok again. He looks back, steady in my eyes, without blinking, and then he falls as if gunshot, no buckling of legs, he just falls sideways, complete, to the snowy ground. The ground gives with a soft tremor. The veterinarian listens for breath and heart sounds. The thumping cadence is absent now, his old bones are finally resting. I kneel, forehead to forehead.


Rebecca Reynolds Weil is the award-winning author of Bring Me the Ocean: Nature as Teacher, Messenger, and Intermediary, featured on NPR's All Things Considered and by USA Today. She lives with her family in Upstate New York and finds joy in the company of donkeys and chickens and the wild around them.


Image by vencav courtesy of AdobeStock

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