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The Horses

by Francis Webb

The vegetative soul is the dedicated rhetorician:
Yellow knuckles of gorse are eloquent; motion
Is the psyche entire whose fullness is naked growing
Ungirt with passion or reflection.
Grass meanders intoxicate in green simple action,
Little hills troll the pastoral catches, allowing
Hosannas of Saints in sober gesture alive
As flowering cherry along a drive.

With the Wensum comes consecrated ordered Wish.
From weedy tenements the spying suburban fish.
Dace, roach, carp, dart or loiter with tingling gills
In subaqueous blackout, neon,
Discuss certain shadows, suns as wool or rayon,
Choose certain baits as tranquillisers, pills.
Plucked from his element, each convulsed dreamer beats
Agony for his city streets.

A phylum apart these two old horses stand.
(Flies conspire to transfix the sweating land.)
The pair of them will stand an hour together
Licking each other's sides with great slow tongues.
Minds, as bodies, are ancient galls and wrongs.
Flies would erode this hackneyed summer weather.
Memory, rumour, and an hour spin in the guise
Of the buzzing swarming flies.

He will give his body to the gesticulating
Green grass without forethought. He will lie beating, awaiting
The perfect town of water, going, gone.
He is the listing hulk or bale of straw
In silt of the inorganic; pang of law
Tides him into the rivers and the sun.
Light plays throughout his muddied floating things,
His action, desire, his gift of tongues.

(This poem appears by kind permission of Claudia Snell.)

Norfolk Poems




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