Poem in Search of a Horse
Time is not reading the poem as you
read the poem, but rest assured he’s slipped
into the room in his soft, polished shoes,
with his little cough, his bowler hat in hand,
so sorry to disturb. It isn’t that he doesn’t like
to read, he loves to lean across your shoulder,
let you feel his breath, a delicate subzero
on your neck, but he’s impatient with anything
but haiku. Ignore him. He’ll pretend
he doesn’t care, proceed to wind the clocks
with tiny keys or stretch out on a sofa, tap
a tree branch on a pane and wait you out.
Meanwhile, the poem persists in its solitary
business of resisting being made, trying
the usual tactics: silence, tantrum, argument
over rules of play until the stuck mind panics,
a tarantula in soft tar, shouts words out
like charades: moon! anapest! plumage! boat!
desperate to drown out the silence accompanying
the figure in the well-cut suit, now polishing
the gold case of his pocket watch, remarking
how words pile up like big rigs on a fogged-in
freeway: apple! rainfall! pasture! bell! and even
when the poem finds some purchase, scrambles
up a narrow footpath through a field and stands
inside a grassy insect buzz, holding out
a shaky palm of sugar to conjure up a horse,
a distant train will whistle, spooking anything
half wild. You’re back exactly where you started.
Cough-cough. Soft shoes. Tick tock. No horse.
(Poem first published in Rattle, Issue 31.)
A: The kitchen.
Q: Do you remember the first poem you read that really blew your mind?
A: “These” by William Carlos Williams
Q: What is the most interesting thing that has happened to you in the last 12 months?
A: Interesting? Two children in their teens.
Hayden Saunier’s poetry has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Drunken Boat,
5 A.M., Margie, Rattle, and Nimrod, among others. Tips for Domestic Travel (Black Lawrence Press) is her first book of poetry.