The Kentucky Derby has come and gone.  There are two more jewels in the Triple Crown to come.  It is time we spoke of horses and the girls who love them.

Girls and horses.  A whim for some.  A rite of passage for others.  A way of life for the lucky few.  Our good friend Christine Gelineau is one of the latter, and hers is a singular good fortune.  She not only has the hands and heart of a horsewoman, but the soul and gifts of a true poet.


Open Range

There’s a wilderness
in every child: horses
manifested mine, galloping
through a West I knew only
from books and Saturday morning
TV, a vista of chaparral
and sky into which my literary
horses continually escaped,
their great hearts twisting in their chests
as they soared out of the stockade.

I taught myself to canter
on two legs, to snort
and nicker and fought my mother
to grow my mane out,
a seine for the wind.

That luminous river of their bodies,
the pulse of those staccato hooves remains
a scouring wind within me still:
the far off horizon line of hills
undulates as we run, waving
its welcome, waving
its limitless farewells. 


© Christine Gelineau, 2006.   From Remorseless Loyalty, Ashland Poetry Press. 

Christine Gelineau is the assistant director of the Creative Writing Program at SUNY Binghamton, where she teaches literature. She also teaches creative writing in the low-residency MA/MFA Writing Program at Wilkes University. She lives with her husband on a farm in upstate New York where they raise Morgan horses. She has won the Richard Snyder Publication Prize for Remorseless Loyalty and published a stunning full-length book of poetry called Appetite for the Divine, also from Ashland Poetry Press. She has published poetry and essays widely and has a poem in the Pushcart Prize Anthology.

Join the conversation

  • Tobysgirl May 4, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Toby is my horse; he asks you to think of the life most racehorses lead and the end many of them face. Those are BABIES running the Triple Crown races — please do not watch or support horse racing (or Premarin) in any way. Please!

  • Diane Dettmann May 4, 2014 at 10:18 am

    During my high school days, my best friend and I often went to a local riding stable. I never felt at ease in the saddle and the horse knew it. Even though I’m not much of a horse woman, I really enjoyed Christine’s beautiful poem.