I can’t stop being attracted to horses so maybe I should just ride one; is it spring, or the astral maneuverings of my daughter’s obsession with horses surfacing as if I’d thought of it myself.
Like the woman with grey eyes and coral mouth preparing to mount her motorcycle in front of Howard’s Station over the weekend, sheathed in her leathers, something about the loose black hood framing her silver hair that made her appear as a nun as she tilted her head to slide on her helmet. We exchange a few words on Ninjas and I consider briefly, riding one again, almost not afraid of dying again, my daughter standing quietly at my side.
Not since the screaming descent, before children, on the carbon-fiber frame of a bicycle, my husband’s helmet glinting far below through the sun/shadow spattered curves I had yet to navigate, have I used that full-body lean and swerve to sweep the curves for the joy of it—with that unhesitating precision you need on a motorcycle. And without that god-commanded umbilical restraint hardwired into mothers that keeps them within a two foot radius of their children at all times.
The rider waves, snakes smoothly out of the parking lot. I take my daughter’s hand, steer us and the conversation towards breakfast and the rest of the week’s lessons in gravity and heat. One of my sons will fall out of a lemon tree; one of my sons will mist water from a spray bottle onto a light-bulb. Rinds of glass will continue to appear over the course of the week in the toy boxes under the stairs.
The sound of the shattering glass takes me instantly back to childhood, Illinois, my brother’s lemon meringue filling on the ceiling, thick shards of pie glass exploding into the corners of the kitchen and under the refrigerator the instant my mother took the pie out of the oven and set it on the cold counter.
Here, in San Francisco, the pupil’s of my son’s eyes shutter appropriately tight; talk of a concussion recedes and by afternoon’s end he’s selling the lemons he harvested for fifty cents apiece.
And in the last two miles before our house on the drive home, the wild turkeys with their boy-sock tan necks, black-ringed, jolt and tag raggedly along the edges of the horse pasture…my husband murmuring something about what how much horses weigh, how much damage a fall at full gallop can do, and why isn’t ballet good enough for our daughter. If horses are meant to be in her life, they’ll find her, I think to myself, knowing better than to share the insight aloud.
It’s not that I find my disinterest in danger waning, but a desire to inhabit the body returning as the kids individuate and release back to me parts of my psyche, incrementally, with highs and lows erratic as the tides. The body follows suit, with time on its hands again, wanting to wrap its arms around the neck of a horse.
Not necessarily to ride it, but just to stand there with my cheek against its hot and muscled neck, its whiskered muzzle and freckled lips so close but occupied, dusky pink nostrils flaring and breathing, taking in the afternoon sun side by side.
Photo: Robyn Beattie: www.robynbeattie.com