On the Tallest Horse in the World

On the Tallest Horse in the World | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

"Horses in the Mist" by Flickr user Susanne Nilsson (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Mirrors are not occult with bedsheets,
no communion of pipes and tobacco:

there is nothing— farewell Big Jake, alas—
nothing here approaching a wake.

I thought of him over fettuccini;
from how high his certainly sad eye

might have queried my tiny work—
a jeweller or a dollhouse’s dollhouse maker

realising the little miraculous; how
for example, when the tallest horse

in the world died, the tallest horse
in the world was elsewhere suddenly herself

cantering triplets of hoofbeats on meadow grass
she yesterday and always cantered on.

How tall Jake was, I have no idea.
What I know is sunset late over my shoulder,

turf burning fragrant and osseous in the stove,
rainclouds dissipating over the bay.

I know foals necking like teenagers
under a chestnut tree in the corner of the field.

Keep at the hay and oatage boys! I want to call.
Blossom you with calcium and grow

indiscriminately the mostnesses of yourselves,
should the world change you by changing

while you’re waiting out the rain.

Stephen Sexton is the author of books of poetry: If All the World and Love Were Young (Penguin 2019) and Cheryl’s Destinies (Penguin 2021). He teaches at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University, Belfast.
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