Weakness


Old mare whose eyes
are like cracked marbles,
drools blood in her mash,
shivers in her jute blanket.

My father hates weakness worse than hail;
in the morning
      without haste
he will shoot her in the ear, once,
shovel her under in the north pasture.

Tonight
      leaving the stables
he stands his lantern on an overturned water pail,
turns,
      cursing her for a bad bargain,
and spreads his coat
carefully over her sick shoulders.


Alden Nowlan, Alden Nowlan Selected Poems, House of Anansi, 1996 .