Under the live oak, and out along the stretch
where the moon lights the gravel white—
they're blinking, ﬂanks brilliant,
they're turning their heads. See them
not going anywhere particular, just standing now
outside the gate because the gate is open again
and the road what's beyond.
Some tilt their snouts up to the branches
to nibble at clusters of mistletoe; one shakes
her mane, loosing ﬂies. Someone left the gate open
so they've walked from the dewy ﬁeld;
see them gathered, scattered all over the road
under the stars, directionless, blowing warm air
from their nostrils. They have no debt to anyone.
Who knows how long they've stood
there, askew in the night, shufﬂing
and hufﬁng steam. By morning a man will ﬁnd them
under the low trees by the river
or in ﬂower beds near town. Not because
they are parched or starving. They walk
because night stretches out, and there is a road,
and someone has opened the gate.
from Slate, October 20, 2009