One of the hardest things in the world is saying goodbye to a pet or animal that you love. I have lost several horses during my life, and each occurrence was something I felt I would never quit hurting over. So much of grief involves the frustration of being helpless to remedy the situation, and when you know there’s nothing you can do to bring your loved one back, it’s hard to find solace in anything.
I turned to writing poetry when I had any kind of strong emotion, and it was an outlet for me to put my thoughts down on paper and feel that those emotions would never die, no matter how much time would pass. I lost a black colt I’d set my heart on when I was just a teenager, and as I stood there in the rain that cold April morning with his face in my hands, I promised him that I would write about him and let him live on through my words. He was put down that day, and in the days that followed, in between crying my eyes out, I wrote a lot of poetry.
To this day, when I read those words over again, it’s as if I never left that spot in my heart. I never got a photograph of that colt, he never lived to see two years old, and the big plans I had for him died that day. But the memories of how strongly I felt at that moment will never die, they’re still living in these poems.
My Black Colt
I remember the first glimpse I ever had of you…
“Wild,” I thought, and wondered at the price.
Were you worth the time and trouble? Even then I knew
This wasn’t something I’d be offered twice.
“Mine,” I thought, while looking at your sleek black form,
But even then I saw you were your own.
I loved you even more just for that raging storm
I saw in every muscle, line, and bone.
I remember when at first I tried to earn your trust
And watched you jump the fence and run away.
My heart said, “If love comes by pain, then hurt I must.”
And so I hurt, till love came to repay…
Fast friends we were, though still remained that burning flame
Of freedom’s fire, alive in your dark eyes…
And though I searched, I could not find a fitting name
For you—my greatest joy, my friend, my prize.
And so you came to understand my love for you,
And joy was mine when I saw that you cared.
Then struck again the fear, the pain, the hurt anew
So fierce and quick that we were unprepared.
And this time, even though you weren’t afraid of me,
The hurt stayed on, and though I prayed and cried,
Your chance at life and happiness soon ceased to be,
And all my dreams escaped me, for you died.
When left alone, I pondered, “Was it worth such cost?”
To have just long enough to learn to lose?
Yet, I gained fathoms more than what I ever lost,
So I know now which destiny I’d choose
If I could find myself back at that turning place,
Yet knowing all that happened would, again,
Would I choose to leave my heart an empty space,
And never know the love there could have been?
Oh, no! I’m glad I chose to love you, though it meant
Such pain and tears I never wished to know…
I see my heart, through grief and sorrow torn and rent,
Yet filled with love which now can overflow.
These memories, more dear to me than anything,
Are treasured so because you now are gone.
In spite of tears, I’ve found somehow I still can sing…
Because this love for you in me lives on.
© Kerrie Tischer
I paused inside the stable door before I could pass through,
And waited with my hand upon the wall.
So near, the halter hung in place which once belonged to you…
I felt the need to stand there by your stall.
Once more I weighed the crumbling grain with nervous, shaking hand,
And saw, although with tears my eyes were blind,
Your image, black as moonless night, yet touched by windblown sand,
A phantom horse imprinted in my mind.
I knelt beside the mattted straw where your head laid in rest,
And prayed for help, for no man understood.
And nor did I, why God would give to me this kind of test,
Except I know He did it for my good.
So lingering there I knew again the love I’d given you,
Remembered still that day we said goodbye….
I found those words once written were also for me true,
If love would greater grow, it first must die.
And so, I often find myself, when passing by that way,
Halting there before I can go past.
It seems to me a hallowed spot, it’s where I learned to pray,
And besides that, it’s where I saw you last.
© Kerrie Tischer
God, let me ride my black horse
When you lead the saints to glory,
Astride those gleaming horses
Down trails in the skies.
God, even if he’s little
And lame or thin and dusty,
Let me ride my black horse
With meek and gentle eyes.
God, let me ride my black horse,
Even if you change his color
To match the lovely white one
You’ll ride on that great day.
Let it be that little black horse
I loved and still am loving…
God, let me ride the black horse
You took from me today.
© Kerrie Tischer
Still With You
Still with you, though one more year is gone…
With time I’ve traveled far from where you stayed.
And yet the love for you in me lives on,
And in my heart, your memory stands unfrayed.
I’m still with you, though one more year is past,
And all that time, I’ve only seen in dreams
Your blackness, standing where I left you last,
With hanging head and mane in rainy streams.
Yes, with you still, for I have often felt
That gaze of yours which came as a surprise….
In spite of what cold pain I might have dealt,
You always had that trust inside your eyes.
I’m with you still, yet missing you inside,
Still hurting, as forever I will be,
For you, the horse I never got to ride….
The horse that’s mine forever, still with me.
© Kerrie Tischer
Every April when the buds and flowers begin to grow,
When earth turns green and birds begin to sing,
I think of you and all the happy days we used to know,
When you too were a living, growing thing.
Of all the little growing things I’ve ever loved before,
Those dying things I’ve wanted to make live,
There’s nothing in this world that ever could have hurt me more
Than learning life is something I can’t give.
I remember in the spring when little swallows learned to fly,
I found a fledgling fallen from its nest.
And though I loved and cared for it, it found its time to die,
And something from within my heart was wrest.
And even more, when orphan calves were born in winter’s chill,
They shivered, newborn, struggling for each breath.
I held the bottle, feeding them, and knew against my will,
Those tiny living things would soon meet death.
The flowers even, in their beauty, I have often felt
A sadness as I watched them fade away,
Wondering why the blow of death must always so be dealt
To things we have our heart set on to stay.
Of all the living growing things I’ve ever loved before—
The birds, the flowers, the little calves I fed—
I loved them all, but yet I know I loved you even more,
Though it’s almost two years now that you’ve been dead.
Every April finds me thinking of what you would be like now,
As I see the flowers and hear the swallows sing.
I know always in my memory, you’ll be all life would allow—
A tiny, helpless, living, growing thing.
© Kerrie Tischer