SAMPLE POEM EXCERPT
Mother, they've strung up the head of the scapegoat
and I want him to open his eyes.
I'll crawl past the bloodshot filaments, the tears
subsiding where his pain has not yet reached.
In this corner, a yellow barn cat,
fur licked flat about her teats; above, a wasps' nest
no one has disturbed, the hay scent
and children's voices hurtling down a ray of light.
Soon, I'll be the mirror clouded by his panting.
I'll be a bright penny destined for the locomotive,
and afterwards, the one who picks it up.
The mob gathers, siphoning green oil into their lanterns,
and I walk aimlessly with him
into the old city of the brain with its slant avenues.
I knew he was the centaur,
that he had comforted the wounded,
his hands like the lit undersides of leaves,
and the fur of his belly runneled from the wet.
His scrutiny was so unbroken he could sense
if one of my eyelids sagged more than the other.
You give yourself away, he cautioned,
by your backward glance. On this ascent
I was supposed to shed all memories,
simply follow the gashes of his hooves.
When we entered the arena,
I saw living branches he had turned to sculpture
arch to the mosaic floor. Our faces in the fountain
rippled towards each other from tossed stones.
The dead unfroze their dance for us,
hesitant at first beneath their veils.
At night, the animal dreamed apart from the man,
breaking the sky in two, making it more human.
Even his shadow had warmth, and I woke
before morning and drew it round me.
© 2006 by Deborah Woodard
Plato's Bad Horse