It has no voice, refuses to neigh
or nicker. Horse-blood doesn’t flow
into my own, its weight lost to my hand,
cold nuzzling my palm. Grey-white
does not transmute to dapple-brown.
The unnamed horse remains unnamed.
If I were a bone biographer could I read
its pumice-like surface, determine year of death,
whether stallion or mare? Would I understand
from indents, misshapen places, forces
pressed upon it; thickened and roughened
where muscles connected?
How much history is lost to marrow, how much
scrawled inside coral-shaped tunnels?
Could they tell me how it grazed on wild thyme
on Mongolian steppes, licked salt from dried-out lakes;
if it died of starvation or old age or at the teeth
of wolves that crept down the mountains at night?
Are its skeleton keys still there on the ground
where I found them, displayed like a museum exhibit
missing this stolen piece of puzzle, this anklebone?
Karen Dennison (published in Obsessed with Pipework No.70)