Chera Hammons: "Bridling"




The black colt was teething, so it seemed as good a time as any

to introduce him to the bit. He had already been mouthing

the rusted fence posts, the lip of the metal water trough, 

the stalks of the yuccas, the toes of boots and hoods of jackets.

While the other horses were saddled and waiting,

he would chew on their stirrups, their reins.

The steel snaffle inlaid with its bright bars of copper

didn't seem like so much of a stretch anymore.

When the colt saw it offered, he took it without suspicion.

All that had to be done was to slip the headstall over his ears,

buckle it, and wait for him to get used to it. 

He seemed confused by the persistence of it, 

but not alarmed, just stood raising and lowering his head and chewing,

salivating foam and pieces of hay, thinking about it, with

the bit clanking dully as it bent to his tongue. 

Everyone knew what that metallic sound foreshadowed 

but him: the clank of shanks, curb chains, spurs. The breaking.

Once his mouth was quiet, his training done,

the bridle came off as easily as it went on,

with great care taken not to bump the young teeth.

He reached for the bit again as soon as it was out, 

and we let our breath out with relief— that he had taken

the whole session so well, and that the copper inlay,

as it was meant to do, had already turned sweet in his mouth.


Chera Hammons's work has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Heron Tree, Rattle, Raleigh Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and elsewhere. Her chapbook, Amaranthine Hour, received the 2012 Jacar Press Chapbook Award. A full-length book, Recycled Explosions, is forthcoming from Ink Brush Press. She lives in Amarillo, TX and teaches at Clarendon College.