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You will notice this piece lacks periods, and so it may be best experienced by listening.
Seated in a folding chair
The stall a safe cocoon
the late afternoon 
Dust motes twinkle in the sun
and slowly circle throughout the air
 
The ritual begins
 
The donkey is already soft
Thick gray hair for winter
Slumped in peacefulness
Lips loose and quivering slightly
The fine hairs on the muzzle 
Slivers of silver 
 
He’ll begin turning soon
As he chooses
A slow-slow rotation like a celestial body in a universe of constellations
His spin made possible by shifting hooves 
based on her hands
and his itch
The circular motions, the scratching, the probing of fingers
The donkey shifts, so that her hands might find a new place or linger in the right one
the grooming orbit
 
Finger sticks
Circumambulating the gray furred butt 
The donkey stops for this rub a long while
Then sweeping down the legs; her small hands brushing downward with the hair 
She finds the back hooves are cool –good
 
He’s spun to the side now 
He’s short -she’s sitting
Her hands smooth the thick coarse fur flat across his back
then her hands scrub his flank like a washerwoman, bits of debris buried deep in the donkey’s coat fall onto her lap
he twitches, blows --her hands smooth his pads of fat, the long-wide lumps signs of too much grass  
 
She reaches the donkey’s underbelly
Its hair short and stuck together in peaked clumps – an unlikely spot for the donkey to reach
so, she spends time, as the clock in the tack room clicks, clicks, clicks, working in circles underbelly to girth
then he shifts yet again to face her so she can explore his chest and neck
she checks the scars where Ziggy was bitten by the other donkey
still some areas in scab --  
she turns her palm over to brush Ziggy’s muscled neck with the back of her hand
taking care not to tear the coverings away  
The neck is rippled lightly with extra fat
Her fingers pull the black mane hairs -so much shorter than a horse’s

Reaching the poll at the base of one long ear, 
she reaches into the ear, and gently scrapes the flakey skin
and pulls the particles away in her fingernails
 
The donkey’s eyes fathomless black pools
muzzle soft as seal skin
breathing velvet
The girls’ hands cradle the donkey’s head, 
hands placed flat on each cheek
Her soft eyes
Her breath - his breath
her chest rises and falls, 
his barrel expands and contracts
soft whispered threads
synchronized 
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