The Dusk of Horses
Right under their noses, the green Of the field is paling away Because of something fallen from the sky. They see this, and put down Their long heads deeper in grass That only just escapes reflecting them As the dream of a millpond would. The color green flees over the grass Like an insect, following the red sun over The next hill. The grass is white. There is no cloud so dark and white at once; There is no pool at dawn that deepens Their faces and thirsts as this does. Now they are feeding on solid Cloud, and, one by one, With nails as silent as stars among the wood Hewed down years ago and now rotten, The stalls are put up around them. Now if they lean, they come On wood on any side. Not touching it, they sleep. No beast ever lived who understood What happened among the sun's fields, Or cared why the color of grass Fled over the hill while he stumbled, Led by the halter to sleep On his four taxed, worthy legs. Each thinks he awakens where The sun is black on the rooftop, That the green is dancing in the next pasture, And that the way to sleep In a cloud, or in a risen lake, Is to walk as though he were still in the drained field standing, head down, To pretend to sleep when led, And thus to go under the ancient white Of the meadow, as green goes And whiteness comes up through his face Holding stars and rotten rafters, Quiet, fragrant, and relieved.
From The Whole Motion: Collected Poems 1945-1992 (Wesleyan University Press) by James Dickey. Copyright © 1992 by James Dickey. Used with permission of Wesleyan University Press.
The author of numerous collections of poetry, James Dickey's work experimented with language and syntax, addressing humanity and violence by presenting the instincts of humans and animals as antithetical to the false safety of civilization.
Date Published: 1992-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/dusk-horses