The round pen sits stagnant. Freshly mowed, but abandoned all the same; the barrels inside blown askew and the gate hanging open like it might've rusted that way.
A background theme of muttering tree locusts and a partially baked evening stillness solidifies this melancholy.
This mood...that conjures up sweaty, euphoric, frustrating and rewarding memories inside those round paneled walls. Perhaps also it conjures up the mood of an eerie movie scene, like a gunfight brewing in the deafening streets of a ghost town.
But mostly it reminds me of soft eyes and long brown lashes, feathered feet and a lowered head, and lots of hours that felt like minutes. Lots of try, lots of love and lots of circles.
I freeze up facing toward it, mind's eye cast inward but outwardly comforted by the west invasion of heat, and not unaware of an attached shadow fleeing eastward and grandly extending my stature in the process.
The perfect time of day to be inside the round pen, one on one with a powerful four legged, frightened or obstinate or unsure. Or, as often the case with my girl, eagerly willing.
The pain and surreality of the present forks through this image in a heartbeat, and my inward vision becomes outward and glassy.
My attention swerves to the hitching post, then to the tying tree, and then out to the pasture where soft grazing snorts waft timidly within earshot.
The girl that stole my heart. The horse that rescued my childhood. The horse that waited at the fence for me to finish schoolwork. The mare that outsmarted and tested me. The mare that could have been a human in so many instances.
I suddenly see the years behind me billowing out of reach like the changing scenes of a sleep induced dream, and I mourn them.
Where did those moments go? When time would stand still at the lick of her lips, signaling victory of an intense goal. At the leaping of my senses when she leapt obstacles to run to me from the pasture. At days when she and I were the only two on planet earth together.