JER: Could Have

EN’s good friend and occasional contributor of awesomeness JER has sent us an article with a nice change of pace, trading ridiculousness for literary grace.  I won’t even begin to try to introduce this other than to say many thanks to JER and thank you for reading.
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From JER:

The sport of eventing has a poetry of its own: the shifting rhythms of the three phases, the epic struggles of humans and equines, even the unprintable haikus of frustration.  Our passion for the sport is tempered by its dangers, which will always be there, ready to darken the most perfect of weekends.  When a horse or rider ends up on the wrong side of luck, even if you don’t know them personally, you know someone who does, or you know someone who started the horse or who sold the horse, or you realize you and the rider shared a childhood instructor, or you remember when someone on Facebook shared a giddy video of the pair in happier times.  

We’re all in this together.  Next time it could be me.  Or you.  Or us.  Or no one.  Hopefully, no one. 

Last week in the real world, the Nobel Prize-winning poet Wislawa Szymborska died.  One of her best-known poems, Could Have, is an elegant, haunting expression of close calls and breathless relief. 

 

Could Have 

It could have happened. 
It had to happen. 
It happened earlier. Later. 
Nearer. Farther off. 
It happened, but not to you. 
 
You were saved because you were the first. 
You were saved because you were the last. 
Alone. With others. 
On the right. The left. 
Because it was raining. Because of the shade. 
Because the day was sunny. 
 
You were in luck — there was a forest. 
You were in luck — there were no trees. 
You were in luck — a rake, a hook, a beam, a brake, 
A jamb, a turn, a quarter-inch, an instant … 
 
So you’re here? Still dizzy from 
another dodge, close shave, reprieve? 
One hole in the net and you slipped through? 
I couldn’t be more shocked or 
speechless. 
Listen, 
how your heart pounds inside me.
 

Wislawa Szymborska died peacefully in her sleep on 1 February 2012, aged eighty-eight. 

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