Tribute to My Best Polo-Pony

  MY BEST POLO-PONY, CHLOE

 

       Give a horse what she needs
and she will give you her heart in return.
–Anonymous

 

Before I bought her we played stick-and-ball.

Just as I smacked a shot beneath her neck,

she planted her right foot, pivoted toward

the airborne ball, left me laughing on the ground.

 

First owned by a pro who couldn’t find her whoa,

his bit-yanking loosened four back teeth and packed 

her shoulders with arthritic throbbing sand.

 

Teeth extracted, joints urged to spawn synovia,

her heart continued to push adrenalin through pain;

upped her speed and passion as each game progressed.

 

Once we got bumped hard in a tournament:

“Looks like Campbell’s coming off!”

said the announcer as I launched into space.

 

But she swerved to stay beneath me,

held her head up as I landed on her neck,

maintained course until I slid back to the saddle.

 

“I’m your polo pony— don’t do cross-country,”

she would whisper when we hit the trail, treating

turn-arounds like home-sweet races, do-or-die.

 

When I walked to her corral with her,

she’d bring her cheek to mine, listening

to my recaps of our workout or a chukker.

 

In one of our last polo games the ball sailed past

her nose; she planted her left foot and pivoted

to chase the ball, dumped me on the ground.

 

“But don’t you want to win?” she asked,

looking down as I lay paralyzed

for the longest thirty seconds in my life.

 

She grew gradually more breathless her last year

but gave me everything she had for one big tournament;

two weeks later she refused to eat, panting as she stood.

 

On her final day she touched noses with her pals,

walked beside me to the west end of the polo field,

tugged weakly at some withered blades of grass.

 

My wife and I hugged farewells to her shriven frame,

then stepped back as she took the doctor’s needle.

Chloe crashed unconscious to her side, her spirit

spurring her to gallop gamely as she died.

 

About Art

Art Campbell’s Non-Blawg contains thought-sprinklings from an aging jock, recovering lawyer, and die-hard poet. Campbell was born in Brooklyn, raised in Appalachia, and scholarshipped to Harvard and Georgetown Universities. Prior to earning his second law degree he was a road-maintenance worker, janitor, boxer, rugby player, and professional musician. He then became a trial lawyer in Washington, D.C.– both for and against the government.

For over 40 years Campbell has been challenged to follow the path of Zen Buddhism through varied venues. Although a full-time law professor at California Western in San Diego, he’s seen his poetry win prizes and publication throughout the United States. Married to best-selling novelist Drusilla Campbell, with whom he’s raised two sons, he now trains two dogs and three horses, and occasionally runs roadraces in southern California.

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