July 17 – Star

by Juliana Lightle


The phone rings.

“Star’s dead. There’s blood everywhere.  He’s hanging from the gate. Blood is all over Rosie’s face. It’s dreadful.”

A tear choked voice. “You can’t bring D’mitri home.”

D’mitri’s nine. Star belongs to him.  Shock, tears, disbelief. Last night he ran, bucked, reared, chased around, playing. How? The pen’s all pipe, no sharp edges,  nothing harmful, consistently inspected.

D’mitri goes home with me.

He says, “Nana, I have to see him; I have to know what happened.”

Slowly, in dread, we walk behind the barn.  Star’s hanging by one hoof in the three inch space between the gate and fence, ankle broken. The blood covered fence, gate, and ground stare at me.  It’s hot, his body’s stiff.  He must be moved.
The coyotes will come in the night, drawn by the smell of blood, of death.

The neighbor brings his big , red tractor; a wench pulls Star’s young body free,
and gently lays him on the cold, grey, barn floor. His shining copper coat no longer shines. D’mitri and I remember bottle feeding him after Miracle died, teaching him to lead. We stare at Star’s body in disbelief.

Kindly, the neighbor says, “He died quick, femoral artery cut by bone, bled out.”

For hours, Rosie and Cool stand at the spot where Star died. They do not even leave to eat alfalfa. It takes me hours to wash away the blood. It took D’mitri ten months to go back to the barn, to ride Rosie again.

Juliana lives on the edge of a canyon in the Panhandle of Texas, teaches high school, raises horses, sings, entertains friends, xeroscape gardens, and wanders the wild. She is currently working on a book of poetry and essays she plans to get published before the year’s end.


4 responses to “July 17 – Star

  1. Judith Helburn

    It made me cry.

  2. I could barely stand to read this. It reminded me of the loss of my own two horses and that was over twenty years ago. I still grieve.

  3. It was quite horrid especially for my grandson. I have owned a lot of horses but this experience was the worst.

  4. Such sparse, clear imagery for such an overwhelming scene…this is beautifully written and so tragic…amazing and powerful you had the strength to be there with your grandson and let him say his goodbye.

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