Horse and Horseman
Last night the sun
dropped into the ocean without a splash,
and the water went black, went underground,
the line of the sky a faint orange
where it met the intractable dark.
So tell me, when the moon rose,
and the shadows slowly
redrew themselves on the walls,
where were you walking? Your quick bright form
appears, and disappears. The dead outnumber the living.
They always have, and we knew that, but
only gradually have we learned to know it
by the emptiness of hands that once held clay,
by the missing step in a staircase:
we the living are only froth,
riding on waves of the dead.
You misunderstand. I do not feel betrayed.
No one has wronged me. But to make this crossing
I must chose horse and horseman carefully.
I don't know this whale, gliding
off the point of Devil's Punchbowl.
He's long and pale, no Gray, and
he keeps his flukes to himself.
In diving, he shows his endless back, that's all.
Not a show-off. The flukes remain submerged,
and he pushes with them mightily.
You can see the hill of water that they raise
as he makes for deep water.
Like that. A horse like that. That's what I need.
For horseman? I need a boy
with long yellow hair, and a sullen look.
He must be outrageously lucky:
you must take these things on the volley,
if they're to be taken at all.
Now rap rap rap! Like a woodpecker
Against a steel chimney. Horse and rider,
Boy and whale, sky and sea:
Now we'll see something worth seeing.