Diana van den Berg (4 November 1945 / Durban, South Africa)
Nine Years Short and Long
Nine years today
my heart was ripped out of its casing
when you, my beloved boy, my beloved horse, Flicka,
went to Heaven.
The sobs rack my body, my heart and my spirit
now for the millionth time,
as I remember every moment of it,
the hours of sitting with your head on my lap
in your stable
as your brother and sister-in-law and the stable manageress
phoned everywhere to find you a burial place
and the gratitude when your sister-in-law eventually found one
on a beautiful horse farm in the country.
You were so beloved at the stables
that everybody rallied round
and a horse-box was offered
and a crane to help load you
and a yellow bulldozer to dig your grave.
Your brother wanted to save me
seeing you being loaded
into the horse box
but I had to be with you every second
and I was glad then and forever
that I was there to see
for the dignity and love with which the crane-driver
and the grooms and your brother
laid you so gently into the horse-box
will live with me all the days of my life
and forever more when I have joined you in Heaven.
Then there was the long journey to the farm,
your brother driving you
so carefully and with so much love and care,
trying to direct the waterfall of my tears elsewhere than
on your beautiful head
where it lay in my lap;
then Karin, our benefactor, wanting to show me the foals
to save me see you being buried,
but I couldn’t leave you,
I needed to be with you every possible second;
then my wanting to jump into your grave
to arrange your head
but your brother doing it instead
because it would be easier
for him to get out of the grave again
in more ways than one, I realise now,
then my hysterics at the horror of the soil
and everyone’s support.
My sweet darling horse,
who along with first Daisy and then Tigger
send me cloud and sky messages every day
the way Gilbert the head-groom who
went to Heaven three and a half months ahead of you did
to us as I walked you every day of those last Gilbertless months
of the thirty-seventh and a half year
of your beautiful and loving life –
my sweet darling horse,
the pain is too great,
to write more now.
We will talk again as always...
today and tomorrow and every day forever.
I know you knew long before you were mine,
and more every day.
but it bring me solace to say
Mommy loves you with every ounce of her being.
(28 April 2011)
Comments about this poem (Nine Years Short and Long by Diana van den Berg )
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