Muscles churning, coiling, tightening, releasing,
Bunched beneath the rawhide saddle, slick with
Foam and sweat, a dirty brown lather frothing
At the shoulder, obscuring the flea-bitten gray
Coat wrapped around the powerful creature,
Whose magnificent galloping strides fly toward
A starlit horizon, soaked in plum and magenta.
Pounding hooves echo through the rain-washed canyon
Dripping in darkness and delirium, the sound cracking
Sharply against the rugged terrain, sun-baked and raw,
A visage hideous to the eye, but necessary for survival.
Veins pulse beneath russet legs, elegant and dainty on
The surface, but wrapped in sinewy tendons, sparks of
Fire igniting deep in the cells, a combustion of energy.
Chest heaving, puffs of chalky breath frost the sky,
Each one wavering, tendrils of steam curling around
Quivering lips slick with saliva, a beast of endurance,
Strength now waning, struggling against the restraints
Of mortal flesh, determined to faithfully serve a master
Whose bond runs deeper than the ancient bedrock
Underfoot, obscuring the soul of the Arabian desert.
Fists clenched, knuckles turning white, the hooded
Stranger leans forward in the saddle, one hand
Stroking the quivering neck of his steed, touch soft,
Soothing and gentle, allowing a warm stream of
Comfort to seep beneath its coat, an invisible thread
Of communication, telepathy, and clairvoyance, a quiet
Transference of energy blossoming between the two.
Fused as one mind, one body, rider and mount share
Their strength, each clinging to a stoicism quickly
Dimming, coalescing with the scarlet horizon, fleeting
Back to the foot of its creator. Their journey is at last
Nearing a close, each chapter of their past folded
Neatly like a pair of worn reins lying limp, waiting for
A new dawn to break, washing clean the endless night.
Audra Burwell is a creative writing major with a strong emphasis on fantasy-themed poetry and fiction that covers universal subject matter. Her work has been published by Palaver Journal, Deep Overstock, Carcinogenic Poetry, Serpentine Zine Literary Magazine, and Superpresent Magazine, as well as appearing on the DO Fiction Podcast. She studies at California State University Fresno where she is aiming for a Master of Fine Arts degree. She is currently employed by Fresno State’s Kremen Department as a Communications Assistant.