Rachel Richardson poem

The Horses

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.

Rachel Richardson
from Slate, October 20, 2009