10.31.2011

the infinite horses

I have seen them asleep on the grass,
mirroring themselves in the fields;
seen them furious, on their knees,
like haughty gods, all white,
dressed in ribbons, save
with manes flying like the loose hair
of leg ended sirens on the shores.
Vile vipers have dreamt of them,
reeds and bedded mothers
keep them closed in the palms.
Trembling they foretell battles,
like the beat of their trotting hoofs,
like applause thundering in a vast theater.
They have seen wounds bleeding into the clay,
died among flowers, in the mire,
intimates of birds and vermin.
They draw near bearing armed men,
approach on their backs vile tyrants,
dressed in blood and purple.
I shall remember implacable horses:
Russian trappings; the Przewalski;
the names of the hundred and twenty
Roman horses, chiseled in marble;
at the Olympus of Dionus of Argus,
with a hard penumbra aphrodisiac on
their bronze flanks, the horse
most favored by the others
was that of Altis; he who was so loved
by Semiramis, the queen of Asia;
those who tasted with blessed transports--
long before the Chinese tasted them --
green tea from those inspired leaves;
that horse created by Virgil
whose benign and virtuous shadow was gifted
with the power to heal all horses.
I shall remember in an orange sky,
horses so left in shadow,
concernedly bringing lovers together
in peaceful grottoes from a distance.

- The Infinite Horses. Silvina Ocampo translated from the Spanish by William Carlos Williams