The Herds of Winter

Audra Coleman


These days, I dream only of horses—the haunting sort. Gone are the lazy herds of summer in the tall, bending grass, the palominos and silver bays with glistening sun on jasmine hides. Gone are the mares, their swollen bellies with stretching naval cord to growing womb. These are the herds of winter, the ghost horses who come half-starved, ribs protruding. The ones who hover bedside with bared teeth and bulging eyes, their nostriled breath hanging in frozen air.

These are the herds that belong only to the weeping grass, to all things barren and butchered. The ones who know how to wait, tell secrets, and sometimes lie. Theirs are the galloping hooves that shake loose frozen flesh, the ones that threaten war, warn of winter’s raping ways, and promise that if we starve, we will starve together.


Audra Coleman lives in Asheville, North Carolina where she is earning her MLAS at UNCA. She has been honored to see her work in poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction appear in WNC Woman, Mothers Always Write, The Good Mother Project, 3288 Review, Kestrel, Palaver, Quail Bell Magazine and The Great Smokies Review.