Lars Elling, Kosakk, 2011. Egg oil tempera on canvas, 100 x 100 cm.

How many nights have I done this. Whittled
a carousel out of my hands. Invited to bed their
wooden breath. There’s the chestnut mare
giving birth: a golden hold-pole sticking out
of her side like a spear. The foal in its wet white bag
isn’t dead yet. Cue the cheery organ music.
Cue the Christmas time. Too much coconut
in the ambrosia. One stepfather who isn’t dead
yet. One stepfather who rides the blue roan
terrified through the carp pond. I draw a picture
of everyone living in the same glass barn
with a chimney. How many nights have I done this.
Everyone is smiling. Their drawn pink smiles.
I’ve populated this empty bedroom with
crabgrass. How many nights. Populated the field
with a white horse. Far away. Perfect like
an eggshell. Alabama fog coming closer. Cue
the last call. Cue my childish desire. How many
nights have I held my hips against this fence, as if
I don’t know exactly what I’ll see. That white horse.
She is running in circles. Rain rot all
down her sides. Eating her hide away.

Gabrielle Bates

Gabrielle Bates is an MFA candidate at the University of Washington and associate editor of The Seattle Review. She is a Bucknell Seminar fellow, Twitter editor of Broadsided Press, and has work published or forthcoming by Radar Poetry, Rattle, Southern Humanities Review, Broadsided, Pine Hills Review, and other journals.