Listening for Hoof Beats

Every night, no matter where I am
when I lie down, I turn
my back on half the world.

At home, it’s the east I ignore,
with its theatres and silverware,
as I face the adventurous west.

But when I’m on the road
in some hotel’s room 213 or 402
I could be pointed anywhere,

yet I hardly care as long as you
are there facing the other way
so we are defended in all degrees

and my left ear is pressing down
as if listening for hoof beats in the ground.

~Billy Collins “Sleeping on My Side” from Whale Day and Other Poems

It seems amazing we can actually sleep at all, knowing all the hazards out there beyond the bedroom walls

– whether it is pandemic viral particles floating in the air, or pollution from wildfires, or ozone layer depletion or “the-big-one-any-moment” earthquake, or an errant nuclear missile launch, or bands of roving bandits –

it is a wonder we can quiet our minds at all.

When I was about 8 years old, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, I didn’t sleep for several days, fearful if I slept, then the world would end and me with it, without even knowing the bomb had hit. Somehow, my staying awake saved the world from destruction and no one, not one single person, ever thanked me for it.

There is always so terribly much to fear if you really think about it. We are constantly lying with our ears to the ground, listening for the hoofbeats of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, wondering how close they have come to our bedside.

These days I take comfort in knowing I don’t always need to be on high alert. I know, in fact, His eye is on the sparrow and He watches over me.

So I can sleep.

2 thoughts on “Listening for Hoof Beats

  1. Without the slightest doubt, Emily, your Haflinger ‘children’ are the most beautiful horses that I have ever seen –
    in photos or up-close in the flesh. It is not just one factor that makes them so unusual, it is their overall beauty —
    For me, it would have to include their ‘liquid’ eyes, surrounded by their long thick lashes (the envy of any woman who
    has to rely on glued-on substitutes,) Their flowing manes and the way they hold them in different positions, especially
    when they are ‘flying’ in free motion. Their light color makes it possible to fully see and appreciate their overall appearance too.

    Most of all, it is their stately, proud carriage that is unique, It is a pronounced character enhancement emphasized by the way they ‘carry’ themselves with an inner pride and seeming self assurance.
    I see now and understand why you and your family treasure them and how they have always been such
    a vital, precious part of your lives.

    Liked by 1 person

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