Riding Lesson by Michelle Menting

Riding Lesson

Sit like a sack of potatoes. Your butt
is a pit is a stone fruit settled in its cup
of leather. Your knees turn in just slightly.
Your heels hang low just so. Show

compromise. You kick, she’ll kick. Think
of when you’re weighted with doubt,
or heavier: ownership. How obligation
can be the burden that mires you down

in the muck and manure of responsibility.
Translate work to duty to avoid any misstep
or be hobbled in permanence. Yes, take these
abstractions literally. Think of what it’s like

to cart such weight upon your back all at once,
knowing you shouldn’t gallop freely into low
hanging branches to brush that weight away.
Yes, I mean this literally too. Show trust:

let slack some rein. Don’t error on the bit
as a pestle in the mortar of the mouth.
You want to go, let go. Think ramifications.
A mare does, you know. Have empathy

for this horse that carries the full load of you.
Have respect. Learn to ride with rhythm,
with skill, this creature with the quiet strength
to doze while waking and brain capable

of plein air dreams of fescue grasses. Think
about that. Heavy are her hooves. Know this.
She does. She saddles her knowing
with every leadline trot, every bridled canter.


Michelle Menting is the author of Leaves Surface Like Skin (Terrapin Books) and two poetry chapbooks. Her most recent poems, lyric essays, flash fictions & nonfictions have appeared or are forthcoming in Passages North, Cincinnati Review, EcoTheo Review, SWWIM, About Place Journal, Tar River Poetry, and other places. She lives in rural Maine and teaches creative writing and poetry at the University of Southern Maine.

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