(August 5, 1950 / Illinois)

The Horses Run Back to Their Stalls

It's another sorry tale about class in America, I'm sure
you're right,
but you have to imagine how proud we were.

Your grandfather painted a banner that hung from Wascher's
to Dianis's Grocery across the street: Reigh Count,

Kentucky Derby Winner, 1928.
And washtubs filled
with French champagne. I was far too young

to be up at the stables myself, of course, it took
me years
to understand they must have meant in bottles

in the washtubs, with ice.
His racing colors
were yellow and black, like the yellow

cabs, which is how Mr. Hertz first made the money
that built
the barns that bred the horses, bred at last this perfect

horse, our hundred and thirty seconds of flat out earth-
borne bliss.
They bought the Arlington Racetrack then and Jens

got a job that for once in his life allowed him to pay
the mortgage
and the doctors too, but he talked the loose way even

good men talk sometimes and old man Hertz
was obliged
to let him go. It was August when the cab strike in

Chicago got so ugly. Somebody must have tipped
them off,
since we learned later on that the Count

and the trainer who slept in his stall had been moved
to another
barn. I'll never forget the morning after: ash

in the air all the way to town and the smell of those
poor animals,
who'd never harmed a soul. There's a nursery

rhyme that goes like that, isn't there? Never
did us any
harm. I think it's about tormenting a cat.

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