In truth I am puzzled most in life
by nine horses.
I’ve been watching them for eleven weeks
in a pasture near Melrose.
Two are on one side of the fence and seven
on the other side.
They stare at one another from the same places
hours and hours each day.
This is another unanswerable question
to haunt us with the ordinary.
They have to be talking to one another
in a language without a voice.
Maybe they are speaking the wordless talk of lovers,
sullen, melancholy, jubilant.
Linguists say that language comes after music
and we sang nonsense syllables
before we invented a rational speech
to order our days.
We live far out in the country where I hear
creature voices night and day.
Like us they are talking about their lives
on this brief visit to earth.
In truth each day is a universe in which
we are tangled in the light of stars.
Stop a moment. Think about these horses
in their sweet-smelling silence.
“Horses” by Jim Harrison from Songs of Unreason. © Copper Canyon Press, 2011.