Thursday, October 7, 2010

5. The Strongest Hand

Soldiers drink horse's blood,
fill moats with dead bodies,

pile catapults with excrement
near a thousand flickering fires.

Quivers of horn and wood
hug arrows for their intended.

Ashes of men rout a birch
with locust memories.

Now I pour ashes into my palm
and blow breath on them,

men who ride into a season of slaughter
and disappear beneath a saddle.

When I was a child,
my mother carried me on her hip.

I wore boots as soft as doeskin.
One day she found a mare

escort to a pool of water
between shoulders of earth.

The sky grew black.  I could see back
to the beginning

before I was a nub who held a horse's mane
and breathed its sweet sweat.

I sat and wondered why people kill each other 
and then scatter to the strongest hand.

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