Transformation of Women into Horses

by Chelsea Kerwin

A friend’s grandmother needed a drive to Walmart
for Depends. She had a cold and when she sneezed,

she shat. We shuddered over the prospect 
and thought, a moment, how time acts on the body 

like a hammer on a beam of heated iron— 
the iron refuses to be shaped, squirms 

like a trampled snake, finally submits.
We are all moving toward some terrifying age.

My mother tried to fight it off, but her skin peel
left her strangely singed, raw and red around her eyes,

hidden in the guest bedroom with the lights on dim. 
She tells me, drunk on pain pills and little weepy, 

how time seems to accelerate each year,
the silent turning of the final pages of a book

by some strange hand. I read to her in the dark
until my eyes hurt, and we watch a stack of Katty Hepburn films.

How she swaggers through The Philadelphia Story,
countless leading men struck dumb in her wake.

My mother notes during Desk Set, Hepburn was attractive,
until she turned forty and matured into a horse.

I insist I love her old, as Elinor of Aquitaine. Her hoarfrost voice,
her trick of looking up and seeing something we cannot,

the shadow of the hand that flips the page, perhaps.
She smiles and her face splits into a broken bottle of chardonnay.

Chelsea Kerwin earned an MFA from Bowling Green State University and won two Devine Fellowships while completing a poetry thesis. She resides in Baltimore with her partner and their owner, a Siberian husky named Ares. She has been published in The Madison Review, The Tulane Review, Contrary, and Hobart.