An Encounter

Together we walked
beneath a field
of stars effaced
in a city

strange to both 

We spoke
a third language
not knowing
the other’s first
Our nearness

such as it was
grew thus
in a shared distance
a dome of limbs
net of tongues

We apportioned
each to each
the mild night
the random calls
the thread of thought

Among the shuttered bookstalls
by the embankment
we passed
hand to hand the halves

of broken coins 

the one from the future
one the past
and the one
coin unmoored from time
the last 


Call it paradise or end-of-days
voiceless either way – the brief
though long-seeming dream

We scan the high plains, Elena,
for the fevered travelers
weary, onyx-eyed
travelers in caravans

bearing guns and gold
bright promises of jade
scented oils and healing herbs
pelts of elk and bear
and – strange to our ears –
the high-pitched, quavering
songs in exotic tongues
perhaps canticles of desire or lamentation
prayers perhaps that the journey end well
that darkness and light find their balance
in the passage from dark to dark

So the severed words rang out
in the gathering dark
as the figures disappeared
beyond the faint arc

of the indescribable world 

Goes on goes gone came the thought:
salt sands boundary stones nebulae
ferrous cliffs bone beds solar discs

And there it ends, Elena,
“a scene or dream with no meaning”
so the silent dream insists
night birds passing
all glimpsed through a clouded lens

Now it is I
who cannot grasp a pen

               (from Six Poems by Horses) 

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