Mercy the Horse

“Horse named Mercy freed from
Florida septic tank by rescue workers”
—Associated Press (9/21/16)

The reeds, the tall grasses bent, holding
the impression of such weight. Such was the way
I went on, afraid to set my weight entire
on the world, shifting, distant at someone’s knee.



Too prone to darkness
all my life I have asked for a task,
a purpose to survive me. To be a beam
broken by a falling weight. To be impossible,


as the woman in the poem, who longed to be gathered,
swept up and carried
like a pile of fallen leaves. I came to a name
as was my method: late, to everything.


Mercy, if given
form, would be a storm
loosening between the shoulders, would ride, wind-borne,
to that moment beside water


when, because you could not bring it closer
to you, you brought your face
closer to it, like some dog, some lower animal,
would be the soft strands falling


from women shorn of their hair, believing
that it’s where history, their loneliness,
resided, close
to the surface of things. But stay,


we do not know where the forgotten reside.
In the nightmare I repeat
my mistakes—such was my mind when the eye saw
river of mercury, I read river of mercy—


I climb a small gray hill
where tragedy had burrowed, made its home,
hard labor
indifferent to precision, I think
joy is final,


I rise, shrug off my form, believing
I already have what I’ve wanted—to skip to the ending,
to arrive to all there was: effervescence and dread,
cries of Mercy lives.

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