Concierto stood by the round bail feeder,
withered and wet, spring mud clinging to his hocks
ribs protruding hard and knobby
like the exposed roots of a stricken tree.
“I think it’s cancer,” Aunt Mary said.
“he’s lost three hundred pounds this week”
I nodded and stepped up
reached out a pale hand and scratched
the center of his neck through the fence
for the thousandth time.
He rolled back his muddied eyes,
tilted and lifted back his head.
I stepped closer to him
smelled his neck and mane
and he rested his chin on the crown of
my head.
He gently moved his muzzle to my shoulder
and I ran my hands over his nostrils and
lips, still soft and velvet as the day he was born,
and rubbed the white star between his eyes.
“Happy Easter, old man.” I whispered.
I took his chin in my hands and
kissed him below the forelock.
pulled out my phone
captured a final portrait
of a proud warmblood
and watched him in the mirror as I drove away.
He returned to the feeder,
buried his nose in the hay all
headed out, pale-green and perfect
his jaw still strong,
his methodical chewing
a reassuring reminder
that horses live and love
unburdened and
ever present.