Monday, May 7, 2012
Wiry wasn’t the word for him
Whip-thin maybe, a skein of hide stretched
Over long, flat muscles
And the cage of bone that barred
His heart: mustang-wild.
His eyes were water-colored and their irises
Held the sky.
Their whites never showed.
He sat the shifting spine of the horse
His breath coming sure and even, the animal
Calming to match him: the bellows of its lungs
And the furnace behind its ribs and the organ-tones
Of its heart and the great red beating of muscle and bone
All reined in, yielding
To his narrow brown fingers. Together
They held their ground against the bare sky
And that is how I picture them:
Cattle sweeping down the valley at their heels
The smell of desert wind and dung and leather
All the miles of red earth they’d traveled that day
Caked in dust, sweat
Salting their hides, the man
And the animal
The animal in the man.
There is no name for what they were.
The last of a breed, the end of the line
All the clichés we throw up to defend ourselves
Against the void, defying extinction.
They turned their faces west, horse and man
Pressing the herd onward toward a sunset
Which failed to raise any romantic
Visions of a vanishing age.