Kate Petersen

Horses Under the Bridge

            Horses under the bridge, my father would say to me. Knowing it wasn’t what people said. He meant, let it go. He meant forget about it. Where it equals one of four hundred things I refuse to forget. He meant, I think, be happy, free as those idiomed horses galloping under their idiot bridge, hooves clapping and ringing in the trestles after like dropped nails.

            Okay, I would say to him. Because that was, for both of us, the wish: to be okay. Which is usually done with the parent being the bridge—a shelter to be left eagerly, standing in its own staunch abandonment to watch the vanishing point, the beloved speck.

            So I let him be the bridge (though I’ve got more experience being left), which made me the horse—or horses, I guess—a tight herd of them rivering under, wild and away, leaving farewells behind in hoof prints and kerchiefs of dust. Making gone look as graceful as anywhere else. And anyway, I like horses.

            Get on, go, and too far now to take it back. Tell him I'm not the horses but all the unnamed things. The dumb girl who didn’t latch the door, for one. A tine of grass in the field, trampled and bent low enough to feel forgiven. Some days I'm the long-gone water, and some days I'm the barn, my heart hanging from its top hinge, swinging open and back, slacked with the memory of having been full once, and sweet with noise.