there was the first horse
and then the last;

the scheme of horses in between
is immaterial (to say they were muscle

is being kind, they were meat)
but the first horse was the horsehead—

high angular white bones 
and sinew—and the great matter of him broke meaning open

like a disclosure, and there, where he lived, lay the river of the canyon,
all white-tipped like a righteous migration of spines,

and he stilled the water by his will alone 
to better see the startling symmetry of his reflection,

his charge moving him 
somehow faster than the breath’s steady luggage,

across the neckline of the field,
and up and over sugar cane, always

toward starvation: for as terrifying as it is,
forever is a solid,

and from that firstfoal followed his blood
like the flood that begins at the mount 

and streams and cheats and even seems to grow 
by rain that falls by the torso 

but loses itself through the corn husks 
and understory until it is thinner

than the water that comes from a wound
and it settles in the ditch of a cul-de-sac, at rest as a lie.

Copyright © 2019 by Keith S. Wilson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 13, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.