Poetry / March 2012 (Issue 16)

Selections from The Dream Horse

by Wendy Xu


In a dream you have three doors
and drag your feet to the first

where you find a white horse
and you are its owner.

The horse takes you all over the place,
never complaining when it's late

or the vegetables are wilted
because there's nowhere to plug in

the ice-box. When the nights get cold
you have each other.

When the sun hurts your eyes
you're offered a soft mane,  

or a pattering of hooves like music.
The horse brings down a branch

to offer you an orange.
When the sky reveals a cloud

you look to the horse, already laid
like an answer at your feet.

Sadness is only a familiar melody
because you refuse
to play it backwards,

laid down and took it
like a helpless animal.

The field needs to be grazed as much
as the horse that eats of it,

and when we eat of it
we become it.

Stream, inlet, forest, opened up to repetition
because being human means stealing

that backwards glance,

took some berries from the horse’s mouth.
Took a job in a different city

and on especially lonesome days
scrawled out return messages

on a sheet of flaming ink,
picked up the telephone

to hold it.


If asked what do you make of it,
what else is there?


after the storm, the trees
keep raining for a while

Arguments are little things
you pull out of the air

and yes, sorrow is in cahoots
with ecstasy.

It doesn't have to mean


Carried bareback and asleep, you trust
your companion and feed him

a handful of unwashed cherries,
throw out the alarm clock but sometimes

still wake from imaginary fires.

Horses are made of steel cages on legs,
their hearts are much bigger than yours.
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