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OLIVIA P o e t
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Byard Email email@oliviabyard.com
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Torturer’s horse Torturer’s Horse

Torturer’s Horse

'

‘in...some untidy spot
where... the torturer’s horse
scratches its innocent behind on a tree.’
‘Musee des Beaux Arts’ WH Auden


I worry about the torturer’s horse —

I know it’s futile, but I do; how it smells

blood on the hands that feed it oats

and its careful eyes roll; how it trembles

each time its withers are stroked because

it senses just what those hands do;

how it tosses its head as it waits down below

hearing thin screams on the air;

how it misses its footing and flinches, in case

that well-used crop falls too near.

I suspect it would twitch again

as a body falls down from on high,

and would shift with yet more unease

at another solitary cry. So I pray

it doesn’t quiver as those legs

splash into the sea; that it munches

and scratches its wealed and scarred arse

untroubled by you or me.



Olivia Byard





First published in London Magazine. Subsequently anthologised.


Selected for The Wilding Eye