I rise before dawn
I pull into the pasture and walk
up the hill. Have you ever seen the sun
rise on a horse’s butt? He is white but horse people
never call horses white so he is
grey. After dumping sweet
feed into his bucket
I stand at his girth and rest
my arms across his hilly
topline. My cheek presses into his withers—
dewy dusty salt of his earth.
The sun’s slow yolking of his fetlocks,
then tail, then his entire
hindquarters and my
I could sleep.
Rhythmic munching a white noise from my grey horse.
Tomorrow I will walk
down an imaginary aisle in an open field
in grey pants. You’ll glow marigold as our parents
stand like oaks pressing the divine. And
maybe marriage will feel as easy
and unbroken as the sun
blending my body into the soft
belly of another being.
It Begins Again
after Jericho Brown and Margaret Renkl
I wake. I am braver in the mornings
yet the shimmering world is not my own
like shimmering waxwings are not my own
my neighbor’s long cough rakes against the cold
his hurt shines brightly in the morning cold
we will never get to choose our last day
I kneel in cool grasses to save this day
and howl for help from impermanent stars
can we at least attempt to save the stars?
it’s too easy to lament a short life
watch: the bright six weeks of a monarch’s life
let’s lick the peaches, where we once began
and bring the hope from where we once began
I am braver in the mornings. I wake.
Dog’s Last Woods Bath
Poked by bramble
bloody fingers soak
your ashes in the flora
of the Lost Pine Forest.
My mind is lined
with the trails you sprinted,
huffing new clouds into
the air and daring
to be lost.
Cassy Dorff lives in Nashville, Tennessee and teaches courses about politics, data science, and writing as an assistant professor of political science. Cassy’s poetry is forthcoming at Rust + Moth and academic research publications can be found at the Journal of Politics, Journal of Peace Research, and other outlets.
Header photo by Makarova Viktoria, courtesy Shutterstock.