"The Horses"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Oct. 20 2009 7:35 AM

"The Horses"

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear  Rachel Richardson read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.
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Under the live oak, and out along the stretch 
where the moon lights the gravel white— 
they're blinking, flanks brilliant, 
they're turning their heads. See them

not going anywhere particular, just standing now 
outside the gate because the gate is open again 
and the road what's beyond. 
Some tilt their snouts up to the branches

to nibble at clusters of mistletoe; one shakes 
her mane, loosing flies. Someone left the gate open 
so they've walked from the dewy field; 
see them gathered, scattered all over the road

under the stars, directionless, blowing warm air 
from their nostrils. They have no debt to anyone. 
Who knows how long they've stood 
there, askew in the night, shuffling

and huffing steam. By morning a man will find them 
under the low trees by the river 
or in flower beds near town. Not because 
they are parched or starving. They walk

because night stretches out, and there is a road, 
and someone has opened the gate.

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Rachel Richardson's poems have appeared recently in Literary Imagination and the New England Review. A recent Stegner fellow, she lives in Greensboro, N.C.