His whicker is low
A little rumble
But not a farewell, as
He merely announces
In the land of unicorns.
There in the meadow
The little knoll above the creek,
Tall grasses sway
Then stand still, tall, silent,
For a moment
Of that greatness passing
Not so much from here
As to there
Where all horses go when
Their Horse-lives have played
His whicker is low
A little rumble
To let us know he looks forward
To vast meadows of green,
That his stay here has been
In a lovely horse-way;
Today, thus, not the last
But the beginning, the first
In the land where present horses play
I led him out to a grassy knoll in the meadow above the creek, a little West of the willow tree; the veterinarians trailed behind us, but close enough that the other two were wary, so stayed up by the barn. I stopped, in that spot, and he turned a little and whickered, his low rumble asking his girls to come to, but they remained there, by the barn, watching quietly. So he stood, and rather than a farewell, he seemed, in his rumble, to be announcing a thing, that he was already planning his bold trot into the meadows of Horseland, where he could wear his horn and cavort and play as when he was merely two.
We gave him his first dose, a sedative called xylazine, an important precursor in flight animals whose specialised neuro/vascular system reacts rather violently to anesthesia without it. He sedated very rapidly, with this slightly higher dose, and we gave him the second dose, an overdose of anesthetic. He wobbled a few steps then lay down very quietly, kind of sitting briefly, then rolling on down on his shoulder; head swung gently down, where he lay flat on his left side. He always liked to rest, sleeping on that side, and seemed to place himself just so comfortably.
His great heart slowed, with only a quivering of his nostrils and eyelids, and I knew that exact moment that big heart stopped, for I got a vision of him leaping, as a young foal, right up out of the grass and on about the meadow, flinging those little black hooves above the sea of green, the white star on his forehead flashing briefly in the sun. Whatever happens to the spirit when the body sleeps for the last time, I am sure of it, that horses leap joyfully from their limbs and right into Horseland! His nostril and eye quivered one more time, the remnant reactions of a nervous system that exhales its last pulses, even though life itself is no more, then he was still.
We left him there for a while, so his girls would have a chance to visit him a moment. Jade, who had watched from the barn, trotted out into the meadow and whinnied and flicked her head, stopped with head held eye, sniffing the air, trying to make sense of how it was that her best buddy, who had raised her from birth (for she spent most days at Spider's side, only leaving him to nurse from her mother and occasionally seek the comfort only mothers can give their young.
She worked her way closer, each time stopping and testing the air, whickering a bit to him, reading his words to her, as he must have been talking to her already from that place in Horseland. For she then approached and whispered her muzzle across his. Shook her head, as if a fly had gotten down in her ear, then nuzzled his shoulder and shook her head again, licking her lips, calming herself and reconciling his condition. She moved a little away and nibbled some grass, then went back and repeated the entire ritual.
April had come out by now, so Jade moved away and let April see him. Jade had a moment of wild worry, tossing her head back over her shoulder and trotting, cantering in short, choppy strides, whinnying loudly, the way horses do when one horse is taken out of the pasture, perhaps loaded on a trailer and hauled away, leaving his worrying buddy behind. But she caught herself, remembering he had not left at all, that he remained in that spot, still and silent, but smelling still sweet of apples and meadow grass and the velvetness of horse fur, and went one more time to repeat her ritual, satisfied this time, that he was well in Horseland. He reassured her of this, apparently, for that was the last time she worried his death, though now she has much to think about the next few days, and I wonldn't be surprised to see her standing next to his grave for a while.
We dug a deep place in the Earth right next to him, gently lifted him and set him down in the damp space, again on his left side, his white star facing NorthWest. The earth mover rolled soil back over him, and he seemed content, from wherever he looked on, that he was in this cool, dark place, free of bother from flies and hot sun, for he had lain for about an hour, and was warmer after death than before. Though some clouds and a nice breeze kept the morning quite pleasant and not-yet unbearable.
Perhaps the most moved by the entire transpiration of the day were the Baying, especially Zak. Zak spent the entire time with him, lying down next to him after I went to the house briefly, and inspected the grave carefully the entire time the Cat who buried the Horse worked. He became quite agitated when Spider was set down in the grave. Zak has faced death himself, but he came back, and it seems he expected Spider was coming back too. He wanted to go down in the grave and did so as the earth was pressed forward and provided a bit of a ramp. Once Spider was out of sight, Zak worked the edges of the grave, grasping scent but not sense of what we were doing with his unicorn buddy. I kept reassuring him that Spider was okay being there and wanted to be there. He was not easily convinced, but then saw that Jade and April had understood, so he relaxed and finally came back up to the house.
I had only a few tears and a knot in my throat when he lay down; it was actually that wonderful, low, elephant-like rumble that got to me, but I also heard the message in it, and that vision, of him leaping, youthful and spirited, up out of his own limbs, and felt a surge of some kind of joy, if it can be said we ever feel joy in death.
What he really gave me, was a grand sense of what death signifies: the inherent celebration of the next generation, the immediate lightness of reveling in the foals dancing in the pasture. For one great passing is only "lost" for the tiniest moment before our attention must return to the little foal cavorting in the meadow, awaiting his own HorseLife, ready to give as much joy and beautiful memories as the elder before him who he never knew or ever knew existed. This cycling, recycling demands such celebration! Spider requested it! We shall honor his request, in memory of so many years he brought so much light into all our lives.
What I shall miss most of him is his talking, his low rumbles, never a whinny, occasionally a real nicker. He had so much to say in that strangely wonderful and unique voice.
Last modified on
Tuesday, 19-Jul-2005 14:15:47 MDT
It is now
Thursday, 23-May-2013 06:58:25 MDT