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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 9, Number 2, June 2015


Jenny Ward Angyal
Gibsonville, North Carolina, USA

The Forge

I had a ring once, made from a horseshoe nail. Made for me by an Irish blacksmith, a wiry little man with a musical brogue, sinewy forearms, and a leather apron. He’d cradle a hoof on his knees and trim away the horny overgrowth with giant nippers, tossing aside the parings for the dogs to gnaw. Then he’d choose a cold shoe and slap it on, sizing it up with an expert eye.

The acrid smell of coal smoke . . . I can hear the whoosh of the bellows, see the flames blaze up as he waits for the iron shoe to glow red-hot. He holds it edgewise on the anvil with long-handled tongs and beats it into the perfect shape for this particular hoof, bouncing his hammer in a ringing diminuendo after each blow: BANG BUTabutabuta, BANG BUTabuta . . . He plunges the hot shoe into a bucket of water and fits it, still sizzling, onto the hoof, nailing it in place with just a couple of blows for each of the nails he holds handy between his lips. He clinches the nail points and shifts his shoulder to the mare’s flank. I study my battered store-bought sneakers and inhale the heaven scent of hay.

the last syllables
into place . . .
the rhythm of hoofbeats,
the lift of white wings



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