The Year of Horses

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k-j
Perspicacious Poster
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Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2005 10:37 pm
Location: Denver, CO

The Year of Horses

Post by k-j » Wed Jan 28, 2009 12:21 am

Draft 2:

A thin sheen of frost glitters in the beam
of a streetlight. Nothing stirs in the murk
as I make my way to work in the early dark -
I'm the only one around; it's six a.m. -

flash of silver pastern and point of hock
vanishing into an alley like steam,
hoofbeats cloppering on macadam...
and then it's all over, quick

as the flick of a knife. That was in March,
then nothing until late summer:
I'm walking the towpath when I become aware,
across the canal, on a patch

of waste ground, of a foal and mare
incuriously cropping the vetch,
hemmed in by brick warehouses, each
quite calm about my presence there -

I watch them until dusk, when they drift
away. Now I begin to see horses more often:
on top of a multistorey carpark a stallion,
black with a white mane like spindrift;

on a Monday in November, a young roan
delicately picking its way though the weft
of traffic - and the cars are silent and the soft
champing breath of the horse the only sound.

That winter in every part of the city,
there were horses. A great herd
seemed to be churning the charred
concrete into a rich fecundity,

until something happened and they disappeared.
For a while afterwards I'd see their sooty
shadows in my dreams, and be filled with pity,
but I couldn't touch them if I tried,

and now I'm not sure what it is I seek,
or feel the absence of as I walk
the sterile streets and arid underpasses,
or what yawning lack
my ebbing memory of that year exposes -
what became of all my horses?

---------------------------------------------

Original version

The first time, it was a lot like a dream.
A thin sheen of frost lay on the sidewalk
as I made my way to work in the early dark -
I was the only one around; it was six a.m. -

flash of silver pastern and point of hock
vanishing down an alley like steam,
hoofbeats cloppering on macadam...
and that was it, all over, quick

as the flick of a knife. That was in March,
then nothing until late summer:
I was walking the towpath when I saw,
across the canal, on a patch

of waste ground, a foal and a mare
disinterestedly cropping the vetch,
hemmed in by brick warehouses, each
equally oblivious to my presence there -

I watched them for half an hour, then left.
Now I began to see horses more often:
on top of a multistorey carpark a stallion,
black with a white mane like spindrift;

on a Monday in November, a young roan
delicately picking its way though the weft
of traffic - and the cars were silent and the soft
champing breath of the horse the only sound.

That winter in every part of the city,
there were horses. A great herd
seemed to be churning the charred
concrete into fruition and fecundity,

until something happened and they disappeared.
For a while afterwards I'd see their sooty
shadows in my dreams, and be filled with pity,
but I couldn't touch them if I tried,

and now I'm not sure what it is I seek,
or feel the absence of as I trudge to work.
fine words butter no parsnips

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