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A common dilemma—she can’t live with them; doesn’t want to live without them—inspiring a gallery of passing fancies—but whose fault was that? Fidelity was a glass box of marbles she could see clear through their cat’s eye stripes of pure primary colours. And wanted to roll on out. A collector of memories travels farthest alone.


That country is all wild open
masses moulding space
folded into hills and water,
sky discovering storms and stars
dispersed across the open places
pines describe
in opening arcs of darkness
in the hollow of old hills
bones of wild horses whiten
in the bodies of young foals
old mares remember.

They die in many ways, horses
break their necks
—or cougars break them for them;
horses rip their bellies open
on barbed wire or green oats; drown;
are beaten; starve; or sicken into death
in many ways
—but stallions die differently.

When this present master killed
the old man under the death blow told him
all a young stud needs to know: more mares.

He learns devotion to that patient principle,
earning them by theft and conquest
of his own kind none can stand before him
all go down and dying leave him
more of all he’s wanting,
deep-bellied matriarchs,
mellow-eyed and slow;

young mares
obedient in their brief sweet need
flirt before him
high-crested and commanding them
they yield, receiving him
with a secret satisfaction all their own;

old mares
knowing the shortest way
to the best water
the stallion follows
but the mares still know
he is their master
—like the one before him
and the one soon following after

their different lords are all the same
to them a love so constant
mares scarcely notice when a stallion dies.