Wednesday, September 26, 1984


‘An artist!’ replied the man, ‘How I have captured you
galloping across the bridge like a wild pony.’
—for Duane BigEagle

In a book I found a photograph of a small child—
Was it you? Beyond the edge of the page,
horses dragged wet wings across the night sky,
in search of other continents, with you hidden in their folds—
as color from a tube, as a brush to canvas—like a Monet at dusk.
Beneath our hooves, the grey cobblestone clattered;
the streets of Paris glistened with rain
as we scattered buildings reflected in puddles.

Last time I saw you, you were painting the Seine.
I remember how the color blue
slowly became the most important thing in the room
when she asked who you were sleeping with.
We balanced on the worn enamel tub;
the incessant dripping of water wore us down.

Sometimes I dream of another country,
I was homesick—the barking dogs reminded me of home.
I was homesick for my native tongue.
Do you remember the clouds?
You rode across my body;
I thought of the chipped porcelain of her breasts.
All this longing for home.
What of the mother of your son?

Once our ponies stamped a platform in the snow;
their frozen breath rang like small bells
falling in the fragile air.
On the Oklahoma plain,
the dark comma of a buffalo in snow
hyphenates death in winter,
and abbreviates the distance
of lean bellies toward spring.
I’ve kept a lock of hair all these winters
in case you needed strength,
but you were gone like a wild pony.

I remember the places we’ve never been,
and the vastness of the prairie, because Paris
opened up its sky, lost snow turned to rain—
the puddles captured and reflected buildings
scattering like horses rising on the wing.