Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Shadows

Mongolian horse from Wikipedia.
November and gray before noon
their shadows came, halting
at first. By the clean brown garbage
containers behind the new brown shops
they gathered, they mussed electric meters
and brushed against steel back doors.
Then one shade broke free and shivered
a little by the four-lane thoroughfare.
It savored its own timidity
before a land ready for the taking.

How they leapt! Restaurant to farm
to subdivision, from woods to fields
flagged for wooden frames and buried pipe,
the shadows of the horse archers
swarmed unopposed. And now
and then we'd see one from our cars,
how the rider would tighten his legs
upon his mount, draw back the bow
and let a tiny shadow fly by our faces.

Later, a troupe of them materialized.
They wore bright streamers and flags
and carried short, plumed pikes:
hardly barbarians at all, it seemed,
until they menaced a parking lot
with muted screams and hoofbeats.
The last one spotted led his pony
down a roadside ditch, both
those creatures sweaty and blown,
probably hungry, but we didn't care.
The guy didn't belong here anyway.

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