Editor’s note: Kierstin Bridger, the 2011 winner of Telluride Arts’ Mark Fischer Poetry Prize, is a regular contributor  to Telluride Inside… and Out and a member of our wonderful family of writers, among them, Word Woman Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, “Feelosophy” major David Feela, county commissioner Art Goodtimes, and Denver-based writer Mark Stevens.  Kierstin Bridger is nothing if not arch. Except sometimes. Except when her words are as shimmering and delicate as a Faberge Easter egg, as below.

unknownAlmost Easter

There was a roundup
the horsewoman says,
all the mares in one pen, males in the other.
Husbands torn from wives,
babies separated from their mothers.
The violence makes her voice tremble,
her head dips low and moves slowly
from side to side, she cocks an eyebrow,
kicks the dirt hard
pounding microbes and vermin
in a cloud of leather and dust.

We are a small crowd at the fence,
Three generations of women, my father,
someone else’s son.
We’ve come to see the baby.
The horsewoman leads the mare out of the shelter
holding the lead with a steel grip, like a tight rope.
The foal follows, hovers near,
unaware of her slender hips,
the downy grace of her 4 day old velvet.

The horsewoman understands wildness
must acquiesce to this pen,
to this new herd,
knows there will be
a constant clamor of visitors
with their dangling carrots and purrs.

We tilt our heads in unison.
The foal is nursing, her muzzle drips opalescent,
the milk of exile becoming the milk of second chances.
We are rapt, held in the luminous presence
of fresh life, the shaky gait, the shy corner gaze.

My neighbor’s son looks at my daughter this way,
awake to April afternoon sun, her honey wheat hair,
her easy laugh; soft as light through cottonwood branches.
On the walk home I watch him try
to match her small steps to his lanky ramble.
Not yet, I whisper. I want to stop them,
say its too early. The snow has barely melted.

My mother will take my daughter
to church tomorrow morning
despite my skepticism,
my sole belief in the faith my girl still has in
the Hallmark cast of characters
who bring candy eggs and spring dresses
but I also know the light of youth is too vivid
to try to filter, to try to hide from the world.

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