"Ponderynge together yestardayes promise, and two-dayes doyng"
(Hall's Chronicle - 1548)


"Goronigl gwyr yr Ynys" (Lewis Glyn Cothi - 1450)

Horse Sonnets




{I}


The cottage is from an older world

Than the road that runs past it.

Sitting in its bedroom viewing trees

In the far distance I relish,

From my sick bed, the Sunday

Quietness in this busy time of the world

As if the noise had been carried away

By the analgesic that dissolves my pain.



And in the afterglow of this moment

Bridged by the growing and the shrinking

Sound of a car, the quiet returns

With a clatter of hooves on the road

Which I know I can share

With those others that lived here before.





{II}



And then the strangeness of it all, the ghostly

Clop of those hooves and the reality of those horses.

With only the sound to go by I must reconstruct

That substantiality, the hard muscle and yellow teeth,

And the rider: I see a tall woman with a black hard hat.

Or I can refuse the specific location of sound in solidity

Posit riders from the spirit world, the wild hunt,

Phantom steeds in the quiet of the afternoon.



Even so, the imagination, capable of so much,

Returns to its roots in the real, reviews what it remembers

Making what I might see if I went to the window,

In spite of the semi-delirium of fever,

To wonder if horses from the Otherworld

Would have such hooves as beat the hardness of the road.


{III}



Ranging along the bridleways of being

Thoughts drift to an old story of a woman

On a white horse who came into the world

Much as my thoughts drift in and out of it:

Elusive, though she rode a straight path

At a steady pace, she would not be caught

By any who followed her save one she sought

And he only by asking her to stay awhile.


Then her horse stood, and she in the saddle

Conversed with her veil cast aside,

All her glamour revealed

So the pact was soon sealed

That in one year, if he came, she would be his bride

And so it was, though delayed till he showed his mettle.




{IV}


In the high field above the trees is a horse

We can visit, and in walking weather

We take her an apple and she comes to the gate

For it and each of the children force

Themselves to hold a piece in their palm and her nether

Lip slobbers them as she takes it, and they concentrate

On holding the hand out flat. Their hands are wet



When they climb from the gate with shining eyes

For they have touched another life and a world

That is not theirs beckons, but under their own skies

Where there are things to discover, banners to be unfurled.

We look out at them and the horse through a glaze

Which is between us and their country and its untrodden ways.