Three Horses

If horses can be said to have souls,
if they’re clairvoyant
and used to the darkness because they,
as some myths claim,

were born at the bottom of the sea,
I wonder if they’d carry
the sadness of a man like me.
Along the fence they nicker

and fart. They gaze from tenement
eyes. I wasn’t ready to climb
this hill and find them
gnawing its young, green crown.

The air around them is so blue.
Shavings of sky float down
and drape their heads. Shy and nodding
they are—one mustard,

one piebald, one a dirty gray.
If they can be said to
have souls, if sweat mists from
their flanks before noon can burn

the hill bald, then I want
to ride them, to sample all three,
even if they carry me through
the last of the raw forests

to some fourth horse,
their brother the death-dealer,
a muscular shade waiting in a clearing,
ablaze in the high sun.

David Roderick is the author of two books of poems, Blue Colonial and The Americans. From 2017-2019 he wrote the “State Lines” poetry column for The San Francisco Chronicle. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow and Amy Lowell Scholar, Roderick lives in Berkeley, California and co-directs Left Margin LIT, a creative writing center and work space serving writers in the East Bay.