Time to sleep. The night is well started; she reads her daughter’s letter with worry, care, hope, bracing herself against the rushing in of shapeless fears. These, she admits, are grown colts. The pasture is no longer mine to guard, my watch as mare shadowing the leggy, tipsy foal is over. This foal stands strong. The son’s letter is harder to parse. Reading in dim light, she wants to know the ends of both stories, impossibly: those sections haven’t yet been written.
Dogs breathing, fridge purring, a squeak from a bird and a click in the heater sound the broken gait ending the day’s action. Corralled in her kitchen, she reads. Night hours are the hardest, the anguish rides in on the backs of old memories or sticking to still-fresh details of today. She rises and knocks around boxes and jars of verbena, spearmint, slippery elm, lemon balm, some she picked leaf by leaf and dried in the still atmosphere of her cellar, knowing she would concoct the sleep-gift combined from these. She searches for an herbal-induced calm. Through the window she lists the colors in the halo of the streetlamp; she rereads the letters; she remembers wind in her hair, a gallop, the free rein she believed was her automatic gift to her offspring. She knows there’s no open range, there’s no grassland, there’s no herd.
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