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Black. Muscle. Stars. Wind.
The horse was nearly torn in half.
Black. Pulse. Strange. Light.
The car’s right side was twisted open.
Black. Crust. Oil. Shine.

Imagine the night, the boy, the stallion,
all of them closing in, loose
for the first time in months. The car’s pointed
hood, the horse’s neck, a low
winter sky, farmland growing
houses in suburbia.

Lost. Happy. Speed. Speed.
Black-upon-Black-on-Black, and then—
Dirt. Muscle. Stars. Wind.
gravel leading to unfinished cul-de-sac.
Black. Pulse. Strange. Light.

There were stars, yes, eyes squinted in velvet,
and squares of sudden color, bedrooms lit
like match heads, fathers running to see
what made that noise,
that noise, to rush through doors
into daughters’ bedrooms.

Black. Perfect. Revvv. Ready?
You make the noise that makes it stop.
Lost. Cheek. Night. Speed.
Force the wheel in another direction.
Black. Muscle. Stars. Wind.

And there was death, too, of course, springing
out of the blackest ditch. The horse
was bred to run; its ankles
twitched for minutes. The boy
was seventeen; he woke
tasting metal, salt.

Black. Muscle. Stars. Wind.
A man dragged the horse away in pieces.
Black. Pulse. Strange. Light.
I swear, that’s what the paper said.
Black. Crust. Oil. Shine.

A man dragged the horse
to the side of the road, stayed with the boy
until squad lights found them. “Weirdest thing,”
one EMT said, shaken, “someone else out there
in the middle of nowhere. And a flock
of starlings carrying on, just like it was daytime.”

And the man, the man?
They want the rest,
want to know it has an ending.
Black. Wing. Song. Worm.
Black. Crust. Gravel. Gone.

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The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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