‘Late Night with Fog and Horses’ by Raymond Carver.
They were in the living room. Saying their
goodbyes. Loss ringing in their ears.
They’d been through a lot together, but now
they couldn’t go another step. Besides, for him
there was someone else. Tears were falling
when a horse stepped out of the fog
into the front yard. Then another, and
another. She went outside and said,
“Where did you come from, you sweet horses?”
and moved in amongst them, weeping,
touching their flanks. The horses began
to graze in the front yard.
He made two calls: one call went straight
to the sheriff – “someone’s horses are out.”
But there was that other call, too.
Then he joined his wife in the front
yard, where they talked and murmured
to the horses together. (Whatever was
happening now was happening in another time.)
Horses cropped the grass in the yard
that night. A red emergency light
flashed as a sedan crept in out of fog.
Voices carried out of the fog.
At the end of that long night,
when they finally put their arms around
each other, their embrace was full of
passion and memory. Each recalled
the other’s youth. Now something had ended,
something else rushing in to take its place.
Came the moment of leave-taking itself.
“Goodbye, go on,” she said.
And then pulling away.
he remembered making a disastrous phone call.
One that had hung on and hung on,
a malediction. It’s boiled down
to that. The rest of his life.
Featured in ‘Beautiful Melancholy’, January 2011.