“Black Horse Church”

“White horses ride in on the breath of wind.”
–After Luci Tapahonso’s “Blue Horses Rush In.”
It was raven black, of shiny mane, and the people said the floods brought him in, burst through the heavy aspen doors like a cloud of rubber tire black smoke, into the church on the hill, kicking over the pews, froth in its mouth, like the anger of a thousand years, as it paced up and down the isles, some demon-like sentinel, whatever got in its path, it muzzled over, like the votive candle holders, the flower pedestals, even the frail confessionals. The priest called the sheriff, and soon all pandemonium broke loose in town–the townspeople couldn’t believe it, so they came to see it with their own eyes. Some said the horse was one of the four horses of the apocalypse, the blackest, meanest, evil one. Some said the horse had been spooked by the seven days of bad weather, thunder and lightning lunacy. Some claimed it was possessed and in the shadows its eyes shone like red-hot charcoals, the devil’s rubies. The sheriff called the veterinarian who came ready to shoot the animal with a tranquilizing dart, and was about to do it when the horse’s owner, a boy of no more than thirteen named Chema (Spanish for Jose Maria) ran up the steps, entered the church where everything was still damp from the rain and the holes on the wind-blown shingled roof–there was even a few inches of water pooled in the church where the bibles floated like oak leaves–and he called his horse by its name “Fiera!” which meant fierce in Spanish, then he climbed on top of the horse by pushing himself up from a knocked-down altar chair, then the animal surrendered to the boy’s petting, how his fingers combed through the hair, then the boy and horse galloped out of the church, in front of hundreds of people, like a cloud of white smoke, God’s black feather turned to breath.


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Virgil Suarez

About Virgil Suarez

Virgil Suarez is the author of several novels, collections of stories and memoirs and of eight collections of poetry, most recently 90 MILES: SELECTED AND NEW published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. His new collection INDIGO will be published by University of Pittsburgh Press in 2013. He lives in Florida and rides his motorcycle up and down the Blue Highways of the United States.