but that was far from the worst of it.
Hooves sank, jerked up, sank again--
flanks heaved, nostrils flared and burned like the air itself.
There was blood--
but that was not the worst of it.
Each time a shell exploded, limbs, ears, nerves, souls came apart,
ragged, absurd, destroyed, haunted forever.
The horse tried again but was held back,
leaving knots of red flesh on the barbs of the wire.
Horses, like men, find themselves where they find themselves,
but that is still not the worst of it.
This horse, caught in the wire, a round in its ribs, frothing, struggling,
could as easily have been cantering around a track in Kentucky
or pulling up clover in an Irish field.
Great men lighting cigars in gilded rooms saw to it being otherwise.
But listen to me.
That animal has rotted to white bone, along with its rider.
Any sunrise they ached to see has long since come and gone without them.
So here I am, standing in front of the house I grew up in--
I left bloody wads of myself caught on the twists of love and hate,
hope and despair that existed here,
but that is not the worst of it, either.
The worst of it is what I brought to my own child
in my panic, and in my pain.
I hope that armistice came soon enough.
God forgive me for carrying on traditions like these on the innocent,
and God bless the dumb beasts
who live only in the moment for their simple needs
and by doing so, prove their masters fools beyond all telling.
for Mama Zen's "Dear Past, Dear Future" challenge at Real Toads