On the Folly of Persuasion
“Hwa is thet mei thet hors wettrien the him self nule drinken?”
(Old English Homilies, 1175 A.D.)
Sure, you can coax them with a carrot stick,
a Ribston pippin, hay, a sugar cube,
barley, maize, alfalfa; and they’ll lick
a salt block, but it takes a fresh green rube
to think that, once you lead them to the trough,
they’ll lap it up. Instead, they turn away;
their fish-eyes tell you to go bugger off.
A whinny and a snort. A flat-out neigh.
For instance, my Nokota wouldn’t drink.
I stirred in Kool-Aid and electrolytes,
called in the whisperer—that equine shrink,
paid major bucks to up my water rights.
No use. It died, because you just can’t force
good judgment on a bad, pigheaded horse!
Catherine Chandler is an American poet currently living in Canada. Winner of the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award in 2010 and a finalist on four other occasions, she has had poetry, translations, and essays published in print and online journals and anthologies in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and Australia.