In the Heart, a Pale Green Horse


Donavon Davidson

Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 119 in August, 2009.

They do not lose their children to this war.
They do not lose their houses & their streets.
Aracelis Girmay

Summer rains emptied the sky,
the streets.
No one could be found
in cafes.
No one played guitar.
No one told stories
somber as brown bags crumpled in hands.
No one drank in alleys.
No one screamed on a sidewalk,
I don’t belong here.

And those country roads wound
their veins deep into a distance
pulsing without notice.

No one hunted deer,
tended the horses,
or heard the warning of crows.

Everyone prayed,
waiting for their moment of death
to come in kitchens, closets,
stairways to basements,
in beds.
Hiding out from friends and enemies,
they stayed inside
and waited.

Rains engorged the river
to the top of its banks
piled high with sandbags,
but the river didn’t flood.

No one was swept away.
No house ruined from mud
and rot the waters leave behind
like clothes of the dead.
No crops were destroyed,
and the horses were safe
on the hill.

It wasn’t the end of the world.
No one was punished,
no one saved.

What death
makes one look at the living
as if they slowly die in front of them,

that every smile is from
some stroke of pain,
that shaking hands are just
a reaching out to see
if the other is cold?

These rains brought death before.
A horse was swept away
into the river.

No one noticed he was missing
until the rains stopped
and the waters walked away
like the moment someone
reaches the end of a story
and closes the book.
That’s how we found him –

on the bank,
dangling in the low limbs
strangled by hands
until black birds
poured out of his stomach.

After that,
I couldn’t walk away anymore.
No book closed for me.

Now, when it rains,
I think of horses.

In streets, cafes,
in guitars,
in stories of old drunken men,
in screams of the insane,
in children who run
playing hide ‘n’ seek
from tanks and rifles,

there are horses.

In children who stumble in meadows where only dandelions explode,

in my enemies. In their wish to see me suffer. In their wish to see others suffer,

There are only horses.

The river did not flood.
It wasn’t the end of the world.

But somewhere tonight
someone will disappear,
someone will be swept away,
a book will close,
a guitar will stop playing,
a house will collapse
with the saturated banks
heavy as a body.

— Donavon Davidson