Major (AKA “Major Deal” as mama named him) was a young and vicious stallion when dad bought him. He “couldn’t be broke”. The men who owned him previously had used a technique to break horses that involved beatings and tying his head tightly between two posts where they left him standing without food or water for 4 weeks. Major stood strong. When dad brought him home, he barreled through five strands of fence within minutes of arriving and he’d Bite and strike at anyone within distance. My dad never broke him…. he earned his heart. Every single day, for hours and hours dad worked to earn that abused horse’s trust. Love won and after two full years, Major allowed my dad to ride him. When dad would go out, Major would kiss him on the head over and over. They had a bond that only horse people could ever understand. It seemed only fitting to let Major say goodbye. — Janna Grapperhaus
SAVAGES by Dorianne Laux
They buy poetry like gang members
buy guns — for aperture, caliber,
heft and defense. They sit on the floor
in the stacks, thumbing through Keats
and Plath, Levine and Olds, four boys
in a bookstore, black glasses, brackish hair,
rumpled shirts from the bin at St. Vincent de Paul.
One slides a warped hardback
from the bottom shelf, the others
scoot over to check the dates,
the yellowed sheaves ride smooth
under their fingers.
One reads a stanza in a whisper,
another turns the page, and their heads
almost touch, temple to temple — toughs
in a huddle, barbarians before a hunt, kids
hiding in an alley while sirens spiral by.
When they finish reading one closes
the musty cover like the door
on Tutankhamen’s tomb. They are savage
for knowledge, for beauty and truth.
They crawl on their knees to find it.
Sounds are events in the mind. Images are events in the mind. Words too, of course. They carry meaning. They wake up your emotions, your curiosity, your insight. They also carry you along a river of forgetfulness if you hang on to them.
If you see how you contribute to the words or images, you know when to let them float on downstream. Things pass through your mind like weather, but we have the ability to become fascinated by the storms and earthquakes and revive them over and over until we die.
Reenacting our traumas and fixing them to our expectations in life is something all of us do. Even animals can become neurotic this way, but it may be easier to cure an animal with love than a human. Humans need to look inward and realize they can voluntarily change. Something has become frozen inside, fixed in place. Looking without judgement can make new connections that are healing.
The suffering always has to do with separation, a lack of love and acceptance. A lack of understanding of who we are is painful for a child. It’s common. We transfer the world’s lack of love to how we treat ourselves. When we learn to be patient and kind with ourselves we will treat others kindly too. Treating others badly shows how we are divided against ourselves.
Humans have a hard time understanding each other, whether it’s parents and children, married partners, or friends and acquaintances. It’s hard understanding ourselves even if we imagine ourselves in a generally benevolent world. The world we have constructed and that we maintain is not overflowing with understanding. We’re guessing what other people are going through. We don’t even understand what we ourselves are going through half the time.
Understanding is just another form of love, but it’s the love that heals. You don’t need to comprehend a person to love them. Any living being thrives in love. It’s strange that we have made a world where we have so little of it. Perhaps if we can just start where we are and love something, a person, a plant, a kitten, a work, maybe we can grow and expand it.
We’ll all be better off, I think.
- Anima Fire is my pub.