James Dickey (2 February 1923 – 19 January 1997 / Atlanta, Georgia)
The Dusk of Horses
Right under their noses, the green
Of the field is paling away
Because of something fallen from the sky.
They see this, and put down
Their long heads deeper in grass
That only just escapes reflecting them
As the dream of a millpond would.
The color green flees over the grass
Like an insect, following the red sun over
The next hill. The grass is white.
There is no cloud so dark and white at once;
There is no pool at dawn that deepens
Their faces and thirsts as this does.
Now they are feeding on solid
Cloud, and, one by one,
With nails as silent as stars among the wood
Hewed down years ago and now rotten,
The stalls are put up around them.
Now if they lean, they come
On wood on any side. Not touching it, they sleep.
No beast ever lived who understood
What happened among the sun's fields,
Or cared why the color of grass
Fled over the hill while he stumbled,
Led by the halter to sleep
On his four taxed, worthy legs.
Each thinks he awakens where
The sun is black on the rooftop,
That the green is dancing in the next pasture,
And that the way to sleep
In a cloud, or in a risen lake,
Is to walk as though he were still
in the drained field standing, head down,
To pretend to sleep when led,
And thus to go under the ancient white
Of the meadow, as green goes
And whiteness comes up through his face
Holding stars and rotten rafters,
Quiet, fragrant, and relieved.
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