Found Horses

I. Equine Skeleton, Mount Holyoke College

Not dry, these bones, marrowed with ancient earth,
its grasses and the milk of its grains
parlayed to muscle and tendon fallen away now.
Blood still seems to fire the flesh of flanks
rippling under a chestnut coat;
to quicken the neck and withers.

This horse in the basement corridor of Clapp Laboratory
was Cynthia Willard’s project. Box upon box
of bones, like calcified twigs and branches,
she numbered them, fit the knobs into their sockets
like puzzle pieces, notched together breast-bone
armature and skull helmet. Assembled, they repel
the dusk of a shadowed hallway—ghost horse
remembering the meadow.

II. Equine Statue, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Found-wood found itself becoming bone and sinew
as Deborah Butterfield built her horse of tree bark,
branches, cast-off boards and sticks,
their grain raised by wind-blown rain and grit.
Muscle and lineament, one at a time she made molds conform
to each branchy, wooden element, and into these
she poured a molten metal that burnt away the core.
The bronze bones cooled.
                                            She built them up, new minted,
into hoof and hindquarters, muzzle, tail, and hank of mane.
She gave them the patina of weathered wood.
Thus Woodrow was born
to claim his place under the trees, along the grass-edged path—
trick horse, inhabiting both the figure and the ground.

The MacGuffin, Winter, 2007
Honorable Mention, The 2006 National Poet Hunt

Portfolio