The Dead Horse
I saw the early morning mist
make silver passes, shift
densities of opal
within sleep's portico.

On the frontier, a dead horse.

Crystal grains were rolling down
his lustrous flank, and the breeze
twisted his mane in a littlest,
lightest arabesque, sorry adornment

--- and his tail stirred, the dead horse.

Still the stars were shining
and that day's flowers, sad to say,
had not yet come to light
--- but his body was a plot,

garden of lilies, the dead horse.

Many a traveler took note
of fluid music, the dewfall
of big emerald flies
arriving in a noisy gush.

He was listening sorely, the dead horse.

And some live horses could be seen
slender and tall as ships,
galloping through the keen air
in profile, joyously dreaming.

White and green the dead horse

in the enormous field without recourse
--- and slowly the world between
his eyelashes revolved, all blurred
as in red mirror moons.

Sun shone on the teeth of the dead horse.

But everybody was in a frantic rush
and could not feel how earth
kept searching league upon league
for the nimble, the immense, the ethereal breath
which had escaped that skeleton.

O heavy breast of the dead horse!

--- Cecilia Meireles
James Merrill, Translator

From The FSG Book of 20th Century
Latin American Poetry
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