Carl Sandburg (6 January 1878 – 22 July 1967 / Illinois)
The mare Alix breaks the world’s trotting record one day. I see her heels flash down the dust of an Illinois race track on a summer afternoon. I see the timekeepers put their heads together over stopwatches, and call to the grand stand a split second is clipped off the old world’s record and a new world’s record fixed.
I see the mare Alix led away by men in undershirts and streaked faces. Dripping Alix in foam of white on the harness and shafts. And the men in undershirts kiss her ears and rub her nose, and tie blankets on her, and take her away to have the sweat sponged.
I see the grand stand jammed with prairie people yelling themselves hoarse. Almost the grand stand and the crowd of thousands are one pair of legs and one voice standing up and yelling hurrah.
I see the driver of Alix and the owner smothered in a fury of handshakes, a mob of caresses. I see the wives of the driver and owner smothered in a crush of white summer dresses and parasols.
Hours later, at sundown, gray dew creeping on the sod and sheds, I see Alix again:
Dark, shining-velvet Alix,
Night-sky Alix in a gray blanket,
Led back and forth by a nigger.
Velvet and night-eyed Alix
With slim legs of steel.
And I want to rub my nose against the nose of the mare Alix.
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