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.

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*

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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