night mist
my horse’s breath
against my hand

Jennifer Sutherland


The long history of the relationship between humans and horses is a rich and varied one. We are treated here to a moment of closeness between them and might pause to wonder how this was experienced by them both.  This closeness is apparent in a tactile sense by the horse’s breath on the person’s hand and suggestive of an emotional attachment also as we picture the horse being stroked or perhaps as the horse nuzzles its visitor. Anyone who has tended horses knows their nose and mouth to be especially soft and sensitive and irresistible to patting, just as they know how much a horse can enjoy this kind of interaction. One can almost feel the warmth of the horse’s breath here and see its mist mingling with the night air. The first line works especially well in giving emphasis and context to the horse’s breath. Though it is not mentioned I’m inclined to imagine this scene in moonlight, however it may also be beautifully conceived under an overcast and much darker sky. In reading this I was led to think of various narrative possibilities; what prompted this person to brave the cold night air in visiting this horse, in what setting did this meeting occur and what thoughts and feelings accompanied this touching interaction? The sense of affection and softness (on a number of levels) in this haiku is very appealing indeed.

First published: Windfall, issue 5, 2017

Selection & comments by Simon Hanson

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