Work is wading out knee-deep into the mud, to flick the damp whip and hear the horses running back. One at a time, I take them under the chin at the cuff of the throat, and place my other hand over the muzzle, to feel the hot, sweet breath, see the white eyes and their unpredictability. The wire cutters are sharp in the cold, the twang of the cord snapping back like an incensed reptile as I cut the bindings on the bales of alfalfa. They get hay in the rack, three-quarters of a cup of grain in the bin, except for the breeding male who gets a cup and a quarter. Snorts echo through the old barn standing crooked, in the shape of the bent-backed dog who whines, nipping at the heels of my boots. She smells of mud and manure and the cold earth wheeling underneath that plate of insensitive stars. The feeding done, I hold the broomstick in chapped hands smelling of horse urine and cat piss, reminding me of the warmth that I find in the scent of manure. Holding the broomstick tight, and looking low to the floor, I will glide slowly down the length of the barn, twirling in my skirts of crusty denim, guiding the stray bits of alfalfa back into the boxes made to house the feed. But the alfalfa does not follow my subtle cues, and I know when I come back tomorrow the barn will not betray my presence. Hooves and withers bang a hollow cry against the rotting walls of the cells. Eyes flash white. They do not recognize me. When the sun disappears, the moisture on their heaving flanks begins to freeze like dew drops, like my mind, lashed to the hope that when I come back tomorrow the old house by the old barn will still be standing. Work is walking into the kitchen, to step over the puddle of dog urine, to open the door and peek my head into the study and call out, quietly, to the old woman inside. Work is walking to the barn, to crack the whip and tell the horses that the time of their running is over.