Poetry Conversations, Part 2 of 4
My tiny fist disappeared
into the horse’s nostril.
Before I knew what I was doing
I had plunged my hand wrist
deep into that soft round,
perfectly fist shaped opening.
The horse snorted
and glanced at me
as if to say “The hell was that?”
and Chip, the Toronto zoo horse trainer extraordinaire
said something like “uh…whoa..easy there little buddy.”
Six year old violates horse nostril on first trip to Canada.
Two days previous my family had
sling shotted over the boarder
and into the Ontario wilderness
straight stretches of flat road.
In our pockets
my sister and I clutching the Canadian quarters
my father had gifted us.
kindergarten king of the back seat,
my sister and I slept on a dusty mattress
in the back of our brown station wagon.
The same brown station wagon
that every nuclear family from 1979-82
seemed to have been issued.
Like it was a government sponsored program,
an exercise in hegemony,
for the families of our great nation to all own
the same awkwardly geared , wood veneered, chocolate seared
elephantine, gas greedy shrine
chunk of metal
and suburban optimism.
100 degree heat
we sweated in the morning sleep
and trundled to the Toronto zoo.
I remember there were foot prints
painted on the pavement indicating
“Walk here. Don’t veer off to the left.
There are lions to the left and you will be eaten.
Stick to the footprints.”
Days end, one horse nostril later,
100 degree heat reduced to 85,
tightly squeezed in the zoo tram transport
main entrance to battle scarred car,
my father taught me about the middle finger
how I shouldn’t single it out,
shouldn’t press it against the widow
innocently greeting shocked Canadians.
I was only enjoying the finger feeling
of the rub haltingly squealing on the hot pane
the sound of it squeaking, creaking
against the smooth glass.
But I’m sure in that moment
I looked like just another American.
Already my time abroad
was teaching me valuable life lessons
maturing innocence and forever changing
the way I looked at middle fingers
a secret dirty word hidden inside each one.
by Ryan Hoke
Music by Ryan and Andy Anderson, Wild Goose Creative
(For process notes, see Part 1, “American Way“)