Failing to Master the Art of Erasure

By Wendy Taylor
Feature image: Blue Horse I, 1911 by Franz Marc

I’m at the Museum of Fine Arts
in Boston, drawn to Degas’
Racehorses at Longchamp. I remember
the first time you left a message
on my answering machine, mumbled
your soft voice, said, I’m in the mood
to go to the horse races tonight.
A thing
I knew only from the Pomona County
Fair as a child where Grandpa lost our
dinner money and Grandma fell down. On
our date, we arrive before the 9th race, empty
lot, attendants gone, the turnstile jammed,
you jump over, I duck under. You dig a Daily
Racing Form from a Coke–spilled trash bin,
scrape up losing tickets off the cement. We sit
at a table with TV monitors, gloomy lights, no
view, no stands, no night air or dusty moon,
no romance, just stray cats licking nacho
cheese off chips, old men in torn fedoras
with dead faces and nicotine-washed fingers.
Today, I think of how your friends and I meant
to secretly scatter your ashes over the turf
after your memorial service, to let you rest
while the ponies and the trotters kept pace.
But I couldn’t give you up to the earth
or take you out of the race yet, and even now
through this oil on canvas, I can hear
you say, Put me on the favorite, baby.
You can’t win it, if you aren’t in it.

Wendy Taylor is a poet whose writing has been featured at the National Undergraduate Literature Conference and has won scholarships and awards from the College of Southern Idaho and Southern New Hampshire University. She has taught creative writing and French and has worked as an editor. Formerly a punk rock bass player from Southern California, she holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte and lives in the Portland metropolitan area.

Twitter: @wendy_taylor13

Feature image: Municipal gallery in the Lenbachhaus and Kunstbau Munich

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