In other years I might have been
at Churchill Downs, screaming in the infield
with the rest of the slobs, tearing up betting slips
as most of my picks come in dead last
& doing my best not to think about the horses
who didn’t make it to the gate—broken fetlock,
broken down. This year I’m broken down myself,
one way or another, so it’s too close to the bone.

The coronation bores me but my eye
keeps landing on all the king’s horses
impatiently bobbing their heads while waiting
to haul the Cinderella carriage home. They know
what happens at the stroke of midnight.

Folks in Kentucky say it’s safe to plant a garden
after Derby Day, so I scatter a handful of seeds
from a friend in a bucket of potting soil
on the porch, cover them up with another
layer of earth. Funny how planting something
& burying it is the same motion of the hands.

On the street, mounted police horses
clip-clop by. It comes to me that Lincoln’s cortège
must’ve sounded like this.

Night’s coming on, a chill setting in.
I shower the seeds with half a glass of water,
toast them with the other half,
& say a short prayer under my breath.
Who knows if we can handle another late frost.