Why Do They Run?

Nostrils wide in elation, the horses’
chests heave under the stirruped legs
of mini-men who flash their stables’

silks in the sun and lurch over the speeding
animals like crayons scribbling color.
The horses’ hooves slash the track, throw

dirt into the four-beat gait of the gaining
animal known to the lead by its breath.
These are no gentle rocking horses,

but lineages bred to one desire: to run.
The race’s winner becomes our Pegasus.
With mint juleps in hand, intoxicated

with luck, we believe we are two-minute gods.
When the jockey raises the trophy,
when red roses drape the exhausted horse,

the color matching the blood seeping
into its stressed lungs, we believe
in the myth we have made. But who will

hold the horse tonight, caress its muzzle,
lead it home the way Bedouins bring
their prize horses into tents, sleep next

to them, the honor theirs? They know
a horse can outrun its heart. And it is
heart that makes a horse run.

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About the Author

Carolyn Dahl is the 2020 winner of the Poetry of the Plains and Prairies chapbook contest for A Muddy Kind of Love, which will be published by North Dakota State University. Her 2019 chapbook, Art Preserves What Can’t Be Saved, was a first place winner in the National Federation of Press Women’s Communication contest, the Press Women of Texas’ contest, and also received an Honorable Mention in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards.

Carolyn Dahl
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