I remember the ponies in the distance. I remember you talked of a war, no two wars, a failed marriage-- discretely, without force or grandeur. This was before they amputated your leg, before the stroke. You rolled your r’s, spoke of Oxford, recalled driving in the Quaker ambulance unit in China, where you saw an oil drum filled with severed limbs. Pleased to have your approval, I rarely spoke. You were like a father to me and I was grateful. I remember the ponies behind the fence, muscular, breathing, how they worried the grass. The ponies said: This day astounds us. The field is green. We love nothing better than space and more space. Ah, they knew what I needed to know. They lived in their bodies. If the ponies wanted to kiss, they kissed. They moved like the shadows of airplanes. They knew no hatred, but fear they understood. The sky was shot clear with blue. After the picnic, we gathered the tablecloth. As we left, I could still see the ponies, crowding one another, free and unbroken.
Poem from The Clerk's Tale, reprinted with permission of Houghton Mifflin Company
Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea
But sad mortality o'er-sways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?
O, how shall summer's honey breath hold out
Against the wreckful siege of battering days,
When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
Nor gates of steel so strong, but time decays?
O fearful meditation! where, alack,
Shall time's best jewel from time's chest lie hid?
Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?
Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid?
O, none, unless this miracle have might,
That in black ink my love may still shine bright.
This poem is in the public domain.