Rub

Once, when I was a small circus horse, I was practicing with my rider and his foot cramped. When he pulled off his boot, his foot looked like a crying baby, and I nuzzled it as if it were our child. Riding in the rain, breezes shaved my cheeks and leaves were slick on the path. I wanted for nothing and felt no pain. My rider would speak to me in a language that sounded like flies buzzing, and I would remember the smell of mint ground under my hooves. I have come to associate slipping with this scent. I felt I would always be in the domain of human beings even if I were running with my kind. Even if at some point I could have been wild, I was something else to myself. I wasn’t human, but I was partly the man because his sadness had seeped into my skin. It wasn’t something I could wash off or expect to fade. The smell of mint was pervasive, so how could I shed the sadness of a man that smelled so much keener? It emanated from the type of animal he was that moved on a series of forking paths. I could recognize this state without knowing the freedom of wandering in a maze. People are not social beings because of consciousness. They descend from a long line of preconscious social species. But consciousness makes them tear others off like clothes, and eventually my rider sold me. In his touch, I had felt surpassing tenderness, but I have come to understand this is the way human hands feel to a horse. My rider could not read my emotions the way I could his because that is the nature of the one who rides and the fate of the one who is ridden. I look for him on every path.

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