No Bridle, No Bit, No Reins
Mary Anne Morefield
PO Box 70515
Seattle, WA 98127
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No Bridle, No Bit, No
Copyright © 2017 by Mary
Library of Congress
Control Number: 2017932192
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* * *
For Pamela, Margee,
Josephine, Robin and Susie
* * *
The following poems are
reprinted by permission.
First published by The
30/30 Project, Tupelo Press: “In Spring Grass and Dandelions,”
“with eastern eyes,” “how she named her children,” “as if
it were an ordinary day,” “There in the Fly-leaf Inscription,”
and “Prayer to San Pasquale”
* * *
the wonder of small things
No Bridle, No Bit, No Reins
A steady clip-clop of hooves awakened
me at midnight.
I raced outside to see my horse
on a mission of his own, his white coat
I chased him in summer moonlight
my white nightgown flapping at my
two night creatures running free.
Before he reached the country road that
him away forever, I caught hold of his
to return him to pasture and me, to
I grabbed mane instead, leaped
to his back and with my knees urged him
into a trot, a lope, a canter, urged
to blue mountains beyond the valley,
fields of corn, through the shallow
He slowed on familiar mountain trails
and when he reached the ridge, he
enveloped in stars. With a mighty leap
like a Lipizzaner he sprang from earth,
flapped his mighty wings like Pegasus.
With no reins in my hands, no bit in
I could only go where he took me.
He circled the moon at a dizzying pace,
a winged horse on an out-of-control
I grabbed for a brass ring each time we
but at such a speed, three times I
As if called home, we slept among stars
from which we both had come.
We Were Young and Strong
For years, we searched to find a farm,
drew up a list of our requirements:
solid house, stone bank barn, fenced
pastures and a view of low blue
saw farms too close to busy highways,
with ugly barns, farms without barns,
with mobile homes as neighbors.
but undaunted, the dream persisted.
On the way home from church on a
we drove up a lane. There it was,
tall with burdock, stalls of the barn
but the stone barn itself magnificent,
the stone house sturdy with room for
and children. As a bonus, a creek
the northern border, an ancient white
marked one corner. We fell in love.
We were young and strong. Some might
have called us foolish as they glanced
at the work we had undertaken.
After movers unloaded our furniture,
we picked up pitchforks left in a
mucked stalls, chopped burdock, painted
fences, planted a garden, and loved
farm for years and years, believing
we would never leave it. Now it belongs
to another young couple who folks
say have less sense, more money.
They have taken out the stalls, poured
concrete floors, hung crystal
from ancient trusses, made a restroom
of the hen house. The farm surveyed
in 1767 is now a wedding venue.
with a collie dog and a calico cat for
day after day that winter I left my
unsupervised on a tiny chair in her
turning pages in her favorite picture
with piles of books around her while I
on boots to make my way through
to the old bank barn where my hunter
and the children’s pony waited for me
their frozen water buckets scoop a
of oats bought at the co-op in
open a bale of hay still smelling of
before I turned them out to exercise in
as I mucked their stalls and lay fresh
for bedding while at the house Liz sat
in her chair the dog and cat beside her
perhaps telling them stories making
up as she saw each picture or
bed time stories I’d read to her
still I was surprised
as March arrived and the snow began to
she asked if I wanted her to read me a
and as we sat side by side she began
to read although I had never taught her
Beside a Pennsylvania Creek in Spring
Daily I walk the path
besides the wandering stream
to discover spring
in tiny growing things
when springtime sun
has melted winter.
One day, Dutchman’s breeches
are hung to dry on the hill
discreetly hidden. The next,
trout lilies’ mottled leaves
and yellow stars delight me.
As days grow longer,
violets invite me to gather
a purple fistful to put spring
on my supper table.
Then in a wild rush,
the daughter of the wind, anemone,
the trillium you may not pick,
May apples, white blossoms
hidden beneath three leaves.
At last, the truest miracle
in the final days of April,
I tramp through
thousands of bluebells—
the woodland floor
has turned to sky.
In Spring Grass and Dandelions
Night time and through open windows,
I hear sounds I have never heard—
loud snoring from the pasture.
Outside I approach the sound,
peer over the fence, and there lie
our three horses on their sides
in spring grass and dandelions.
My hunter is snoring. If he snores,
I wonder if he dreams, and if
he dreams, I wonder what he
dreams and if, like mine, his dreams
are a senseless, crazy jumble.
Does he dream of hunting foxes,
leaping fences, chasing mares or
could it be he dreams of freedom,
no bit in his mouth, no saddle
on his back, no reins, no painted
fences, no squeezing knees, no me?
Lost in the Wonder of Small Things
When my younger son was three or four,
he had a way of wandering off in what I
were dangerous places, lakes where he
or parks crammed with unknown people.
I’d turn from watching sailboats with
skim across the water, and he’d be
In a panic, I sent the older children
this way and that to bring him back to
Quietly he’d appear, unaware
we’d thought he’d drowned or gotten
He’d say, I was exploring and
his hand with a shell, a pebble, or a
Saturday Auction in a Cornfield in Cumberland
An auctioneer stands at the window of a
truck which rolls
through rows of farm equipment. I join
the blue-jeaned farmers
to watch the auction. We walk between
the rows of stubble
to keep pace with the rolling
truck—from three-row corn planter
to silage blower, from a post-hole
driller to a hay bar, from storage
bins, to sprayer tanks, a skid of
plywood, and a cast-iron stove.
Hey boys, he urges the men when
the bidding is slow. This corn picker
had only one owner. It comes
with its original book of instructions.
The bright red Killbros gravity bin
wagon with higher sides
brings $700, bidding on the Massey
Ferguson disc rises to $1,600.
The high bidder holds up his number,
125. Someone records it.
The auction goes on—hay wagon, water
tank, manure spreader,
tractor tires, snow blade and boom
sprayer. The rusty cultivator
has no bidders. John might have bought
it. The day grows colder.
Men head to a trailer to buy a hot dog,
BBQ, a cup of steaming coffee.
Some stop at a red trailer to pay, hop
in their Chevy trucks and drive away.
A woman in fancy fur-topped boots
captures the day with her iPad.
I remember the long ago day when John
bought a blue Ford tractor.
That was the year he was being treated
Although he was an engineer, he loved
to say he was a farmer.
The bowed wire fence where the deer
the path their hooves traced through
and in the rutting season, bucks’
against redbud, service berry and
staked the deer’s claim to the farm
more surely than any signed papers
in a steel box in a bank. Nightly, deer
in tall meadow grass. At daybreak, they
the path to the stream to drink clear
If winter snow was deep and wind
the deer chose ivy by the farmhouse
as a place to bed. I watched from the
of my study, my cat beside me, a wood
glowing. Yes, they ate the ivy and yew,
I forgave them. How sorry I am that now
I might fear them for the deer ticks
I am far from that beloved place, and
my heart claims the meadow, limestone
bank barn, blue birds, blue herons,
lilies, woods and winding stream as
and now i ask
For the months my daughter lived in the
on the western scarp of the Lebombo
I watched her, delighted in her first
the first time she rolled from her
belly to her back,
rejoiced when she sat alone by the fire
laughing as flames danced shadows on
as I roasted bush pig, warthog or
That same fire warmed the cave, gave
to long nights and protected us from
I watched her play with shells her
set before her when she grew too weak
Side by side we watched her breath grow
I held her close the night she died.
as she grew blue and cold, and in the
as was our ritual, we covered her with
Her father dug a shallow grave in the
of the cave, and it was there that I
Before we placed soil around her, I
the shell she treasured most in her
to comfort her wherever she was going.
How Could He Have Known?
I found a letter Grandma saved
in which my father wrote,
At two, she is a catamount.
I looked up the word to find
what he had called his baby daughter.
On page 223, I found myself—
a wild cat, a lynx, a puma, a cougar.
What wildness he must have seen.
I screamed, pounced on my big brother,
bit him, glared, said, No, and
When I did not get my way,
I held my breath and threw a tantrum.
Last year, I swabbed my cheek,
sealed the sample in a small glass vial
and mailed my DNA
to National Geographic to be tested.
I held my breath. After six weeks,
they emailed an answer.
We have examined your markers:
Your Hominim ancestry
(60,000 years and older)
1.6% Neanderthal and.8% Denisovan.
At some point my homo sapiens
relatives interbred with cousin
species of hominids?
Those were the first wild women.
My DNA counts me as one of them.
The first human to be buried with a
was an infant who was interred with
in Kwa Zulu-Natal’s Border cave
74,000 years ago.
My first grandchild had a rosebud mouth
and a heart
anomaly. I snuggled her in my arms and
after she had surgery. She failed to
When she had difficulty sitting, she
loved to be held
so she could flick the light switch on