Copyright © Pendas 2017
‘in...some untidy spotwhere... the torturer’s horsescratches 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.
First published in London Magazine. Subsequently anthologised.
Selected for The Wilding Eye