The old gray mare—you know her, right? That old gray horse—stands stoically, head bent over the weathered fence of the old corral, not waiting for anything in particular. There is but one thing to await these days, yet the old gray mare is unaware of that, as she stares into the long cold day. Those up-kicking heels days long behind her. The full-on gallops, the rhythmic cantors, even the sauntering trots, long gone into dust of a youthful past. Those days when stacks of hay were tall and sweet and the black maned stallions even sweeter… barely a memory now. Those days when children would come with saddles and carrots and sugar cubes, and stroke her long velvety nose, unafraid of the yellowed teeth she would flash at them teasingly, her enormous brown eyes magnifying their every child-like feature and intent, as she gently mouthed their hands, poked at their trousers, yielded support to their light bodies. With confidence and trust, and no small amount of joy, she accepted everything.
No, those children exist no longer and none came to replace them.
She’s turned away now from the other younger horses who share her place in time and space but little else. She even avoids the water trough when they surround it. She has no need for discourse, interplay; age eventually negates all needs, as the pleasurable ones can no longer be met and few others are worth the effort.
So the old horse stands, not waiting exactly, as the visage of a truck approaches and disquiets her meditation, sends a twitching tremor over her haunches. It’s the same boxy truck that has driven up this road in the past. A flash of a memory recalls the times when old horses were, one by one, indifferently escorted to the truck’s rear cavern, who were encouraged to enter it by brisk slaps on their flanks; further coaxed, as they hesitated, with stern voices into its dark hollowness. Her memory of this recedes, much the same as her former companions receded and vanished.
But the old gray mare senses the truck has come for her. She calmly watches, the cataracts over her moist eyes kindly obscuring the truck’s details. Fear is not something this old horse is acquainted with; what she feels now is unknown to her, its newness too late to be categorized. The old gray mare simply witnesses the truck’s gaping interior backing closer towards her, its wheels billowing dust upward in further obfuscation. She doesn’t know, as you know—right?—what they do to old gray horses.