‘Goodbye lovely Boy’, John strokes the horse’s neck; breathes him in.
‘We tried everything’, he ruffles his wide hand over the black mane.
Asks his tired daughter to take a photograph. Her eyes well.
Sedated, George stumbles past inquisitive, whinnying, stablemates.
The groom strokes quivering dappled flanks.
She halts,and gives George a mint at the entrance of a sandy space, shielded by metal sheets,
near where a horse box’s ramp lowers.
The vet tucks a canula into George’s 17-hand shoulder.
The groom’s mouth twists and eyes clench as the vet injects,
then braces both hands upon George’s halter. Their heads lean together,
like old friends embraced in a loving goodbye.
George’s breath deepens, lips tremble to a body-wide ripple and leg-buckling collapse.
Those once-fleet fetlocks flick as if cantering into the navy light of winter fields.
I leave before his muscular, elegant limbs are tethered and George’s hefted away.