First snow at Assateague Island drifted quietly
Amongst dense stands of somber pines. Beneath
Them in narrow foot trails, ocean ponies sought
Shelter of close woods, interlaced evergreens
Overgrown with vines and prickly briars, the
Dense protected swath of the preserve, sandy
Isthmus, outcroppings of sea-spongy land.
In snorting procession, ponies followed in a
Meandering single line towards their watering
Hole, leaf-covered frozen pool. Coats winter
Thick, coarse manes flowing, they circled pool
Edge, breaking ice with hooves, exposing spots
Of fresh water, drinking in turn, taking moments
To discern winter’s snow-soft sounds.
A dark-brown stallion decided when watering
Was done, as if safety was derived from steady
Movement, instinct not to linger complacently,
Unsheltered too long. Beckoning snorts sent
Ponies moving, though a lingering few took
Quick streaming gulps to last long nights
Amidst frozen marshes.
Deep into woods they proceeded, orderly head-
To-tail, single-file, following roaming trails that
Shifted through vines, amongst fallen trees, to
Narrow openings in briar-entwined conifers,
Their night’s resting place, a natural snow and
Windbreak, firm-hillocked tracts, warming
Mounds of pine straw.
The stallion stood firmly in a secluded area,
Flanked by raised margin of an old trail, a place
Not for himself but for his pregnant mare that
Followed his beckoning nods, to sleep snugly
In tufts of dried grass, protection of his keen
Brown eyes, fending off intruders with kicks,
Teeth-reared bruising bites.
As evening fell and Assateague Island turned
Grey-cold, flocks of geese and ducks glided
To open areas of brackish coves. Wind-pushed
Snow covered stark rolling dunes, fronting
Atlantic Ocean breaking surf. Hardy seashore
Ponies held their own that snowy night and
Frigid months on this desolate strand.
For information on Assateague Island click this link http://www.assateagueisland.com/