Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


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.

Credit


From Out-of-the-Body Travel by Stanley Plumly. Copyright © 1974, 1975, 1976 by Stanley Plumly. Reprinted by permission of The Ecco Press.

Author


Stanley Plumly

The author of numerous collections of poetry, Stanley Plumly's book Out-of-the-Body Travel received the William Carlos Williams Award and was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Date Published: 1974-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/horse-cage