She's not angry exactly but all business, eating them right off the tree, with confidence, the kind that lets her spit out the bad ones clear of the sidewalk into the street. It's sunny, though who can tell what she's tasting, rowan or one of the serviceberries— the animal at work, so everybody, save the traffic, keeps a distance. She's picking clean what the birds have left, and even, in her hurry, a few dark leaves. In the air the dusting of exhaust that still turns pennies green, the way the cloudy surfaces of things obscure their differences, like the mock orange or the apple rose that cracks the paving stone, rooted in the plaza. No one will say your name, and when you come to the door no one will know you, a parable of the afterlife on earth. Poor grapes, poor crabs, wild black cherry trees, on which some forty-six or so species of birds have fed, some boy's dead weight or the tragic summer lightning killing the seed, how boyish now that hunger to bring those branches down to scale, to eat of that which otherwise was waste, how natural this woman eating berries, how alone.
Stanley Plumly - 1939-2019
Horse in the Cage
Its face, as long as an arm, looks down & down. Then the iron gate sound of the cage swings shut above the bed, a bell as big as the room: quarter- moon of the head, its nose, its whole lean body pressed against its cell . . . I watched my father hit a horse in the face once. It had come down to feed across the fence. My father, this stranger, wanted to ride. Perhaps he only wanted to talk. Anyway, he hit the ground and something broke. As a child I never understood how an animal could sleep standing. In my dream the horse rocks in a cage too small, so the cage swings. I still wake up dreaming, in front of a long face. That day I hugged the ground hard. Who knows if my heartbroken father was meant to last longer than his last good drunk. They say it's like being kicked by a horse. You go down, your knees hug up. You go suddenly wide awake, and the gate shuts.