Animal: Rumi

Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi
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  • 1,200 pounds
  • 16.1 hands tall
  • Seven years old
  • Acquired in 2022 
  • American Azteca, bred from Andalusians and American Quarter Horses

This is the ephemeral side of the universe and Rumi stands at its center. Mythological. Supreme. Noble. Defensive. The highest-ranking member of the herd. 

He smells of herbs and soaked pebbles and dried mud, of a wet nascent earth, and his silver coat glows at night with the refracted light of the moon. Time swivels and swerves in his large charcoal eyes. Nothing gets past him. He is sensorium supreme. He is elixir, cure-all, excelsior. To keep his herd safe, he scans herd and hearth, remote hills and backwoods. 

At dusk Rumi saunters through plumes of steam that come off the cooling land, his legs wrapped in a gauzy mist. He has a job to do: to protect the elderly bay from the Norwegian Fjord, fat and squat with a punk’s hedgehog for a mane. 

The Fjord has a habit of crowding the ancient, thinning Thoroughbred during feeding time. The Thoroughbred has seen better days. He was cheered for years on the racetracks by extravagant ladies with feathered hats who bet on his fate. Now here he is, an old man relying on Rumi to protect his position along the hay line—Rumi, a mere yearling, a boy with the arrogance of a prince. 

Rumi jerks his head up in the Fjord’s direction. He keeps his eyes on that wide-bodied, bloated punk of a horse! Rumi’s eyelids are creased and tense, his lips tightly sealed, his nostrils flared and stretched thin to insinuate the brewing of a confident neigh. 

He has assumed the posture of a stallion, as if he were still entire. The Fjord cuts his losses and clears out. But it’s too late. Rumi is all rage at the Fjord’s defective judgment, his total lack of grace. He charges at him. 

The Fjord’s eyes widen as he takes in Rumi’s perfectly sloping shoulders and long legs and broad croup; his free, dancing trot; his hooves that kick out in pleasure as though all of life were a game—the bull a game! the cow a game! the smell of death approaching in the air a game!—to be faced with flare. Rumi cuts the dirt and delivers a high kick to the Fjord. He imprints his hoof on the Fjord’s hindquarter to underscore his point: Mind your place! 

When all is said and done, Rumi shakes out his mane and stands with his hind legs splayed and with his gaze pins the Fjord in his place at the end of the hay line near the rusting troughs. He likes to celebrate his victories, come hell or high water! He nods his big silver head and lifts one leg to paw at the earth. He is satisfied. He licks and chews. Hot sighs of relief come barreling out of his nostrils. But his mood turns on a dime. He becomes severe, pensive. A tremor travels down his flank. 

The horses, attuned to his shifts, jerk their heads up as one. They stand at attention as Rumi surveys the land. He is majestic. Shiny as marble and touched along his nose and mane and tail and knobby knees by the smoke of fire. He scans the earth. An encroaching ambush? Tense seconds, long as the universe, go by. Nothing. It was only the sky speaking its language, crackling away. Electricity working itself out over the jagged mountains. 

Rumi lowers his head to the feed. His arched mane darkens from the shadow of the earth. The herd goes back to grazing and all is calm in the draping night. No idle chatter, no stowed bitterness, no divisive speech. 

At dawn, the strange motley affair of life will begin. Rumi, ever eager, will rise before the others to take his place at the helm. The sun will bring its heat down on his muscular neck, and he will parade beneath the stars and planets that circle him. “Rumi, our peaceful warrior!” the birded trees will sing!

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