“The Origin of Species”
At first it was horses—
everywhere she went—
she saw a chestnut one tied to a
lamp post in front of the bakery
and she caught a glimpse of
a black tail and a shiny eye
through the window of her
A pair of speckled ponies,
tossing their manes
like teenagers at the mall,
cantered past her in the park,
and from the beach she spied
not a whale, but a palomino
arcing above the distant waves.
She said she saw a mustang
in the wood grain of her
closet door and one time she found
an appaloosa figurine, its head
bent in the sugar bowl
in her baking cupboard.
While she’d never considered
herself an animal person, now
the scent of hay and sweat and
manure was in her nostrils and she
found she preferred it to
the cloying jasmine that bloomed
along our fence or the scented
laundry detergents and bathroom
cleaners she’d once sought.
She took a liking to apples
then—to chomping down
through the skin and into the core,
and instead of a hot shower
after a run, she liked nothing
better than a vigorous rub
with a towel as rough as wool.
By then she was talking less, too,
communicating with a tilt
or a shake of her head.
Our conversations had never
run so deep before,
and I think we might have
married, only that was when
I began to see a flash of green,
a flicker of chartreuse from the
corner of my eye. I started going
to bed with damp hair and felt
happiest when I heard raindrops
on the leaves outside our bedroom
window. I took to swimming
in the pond for hours at a time,
and went for long walks in the cool,
wet woods, and sometimes I wanted
nothing more than to slip under
the darkest, lowest branches, where I
could crouch and wait and watch,
unseen, while she was in the hot,
open field, galloping.
Linda Ferguson‘s work has been published in Mount Hope, Santa Fe Literary Review, Cloudbank and other journals. She’s won awards for her poetry as well as an award for lyrical nonfiction from Perceptions Magazine of the Arts. She’s also received a Pushcart nomination for fiction from Gold Man Review. Her poetry chapbook, Baila Conmigo, was published by Dancing Girl Press. She teaches creative writing for adults and children.
Sam Slaughter is a spirits writer living in the New York City area. He received his BA from Elon University and his MA from Stetson University. He writes for The Manual and his fiction and nonfiction have appeared in a variety of places, including Midwestern Gothic, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and Heavy Feather Review. He was awarded the 2014 Best of There Will Be Words and his debut chapbook When You Cross That Line was published in May 2015. His debut short story collection God in Neon was published in 2016 published by Lucky Bastard Press. He loves playing with puppies and a good glass of bourbon.