Most times it’s knowing when to stop, to leave it,
to let go’s the hardest bit; but this time something
ticks inside his chest. A small flip-flutter
and he’s laying down his grooming brush,
standing back to look at hide and flank, at legs
as delicate as wish-bones, those tricky, dainty hooves.
Glossed eyes like alleys shine at him, he knows
their fringes, lash by lash positioned by his steady hand
and sees that it is good, is finished. He folds his arms
across his chest and leans the weight of all his weariness
down through his heels, relieves the slow ache in his back
and sees that this is something other than his making, this
swell and symmetry of belly stripes that shift, as if a breath
is being taken, as if, somewhere inside, a heart is ticking.
This poem appears in the collection Fair’s Fair by Susan Utting