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.
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.
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.
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.