Terry Lucas

Horse Latitudes

You’re driving I-10, somewhere between Las Cruces
and Deming. Feeling grounded. All Things Considered
on the radio, stories grazing the brown hills, voices
wet with static, licking at the sparse fence line
of automobile aerials moving west—
something about the legend of Horse Latitudes,
the roiling vicissitudes of the Cape Horn Ocean
killing the wind, compelling sailors to throw horses
overboard to stay afloat—They found skeletons, necks
broken right next to sunken boats. In the same time frame,
the yellow stripe in the road turns
dark, widens and crosses over into your lane,
a streak of rust, then chestnut for miles. You can see it
beginning to turn again, this time coppery
in smell, and it’s damp ahead—definitely
part of your brain says best slow down, says O
God! It’s a roan in the road, lying on its side,
tied to the trailer behind a pickup truck,
hindquarters quivering. Quivering
in the blood-soaked arms of two men,
there are children crying, and a woman
is pulling a gun from the cab. As you swing wide,
one if its eyes, an unbroken egg full of white sky,
rolls back and flashes its lightning-red veins.
And in that moment you know everything
in the story is wrong—the ocean, the wind, the killing,
the men, all those horses at the bottom of the sea—
they jumped.