From The Crooked Inheritance, Marge Piercy’s seventeenth collection of poetry, a fresh turn on girls and horses.


Seven Horses

When I was a pencil of a girl
I had seven horses, one
for each day of the week.

Thunder, Lightning, Sun
and Moon, East Wind
North Wind and Red Roses.

Only I could see them,
roan and black, grey,
palomino, dapple, white

and the strange one
the flying red horse
from the Mobil sign.

I rode them to school,
home, to the store.
I rode them down the slopes

of rocky night.  In adolescence
I never mooned over horses.
Later, they were something cops

charged at us in demonstrations.
I’d sooner ride a cow.
No, it was not horseflesh

but power I craved
and speed.  I longed to gallop
out of our tight mortgaged house
furnished with shouts and razors, 
out of the smoke of frustrations
burning like old tires.

I wanted to stick out my neck
and gallop at full tilt off
any map I had ever seen.

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Excerpt from THE CROOKED INHERITANCE. Copyright © 2006 by Middlemarsh, Inc. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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