Selene’s Horse


–for my Grandfather James

I asked James,
can you feel you’re dying?

Can you feel the water pouring from the hose
turn to nothing in the grass?

James loved his big rigs.
I love the sweet metallic reek

filling my own gas tank.
All day the train

shuttles heaps of carpet scraps
through the wild blue phlox of Georgia

where James’ oil truck exploded.
When Aristotle said there must be something

immoveable in the animal
for the animal to move,

he must of meant James,
two years in a hospital bed.

Like the woman smoking on the billboard—
for one whole week only half her mouth

opened in the rain.
I think of Selene’s horse, its marble head

hacked from the Parthenon
and shipped to England in “manageable pieces.”

To see it, is to see pain
bulging in a single vein.

James can’t smile or blink.
Selene’s horse—

exiled, perched on a plinth in the cold light of a museum.
That’s one thing.

Then there’s James,
wide-eyed, nostrils flaring.

Nancy-Pearson1-289x300NANCY K. PEARSON‘s first book of poems, Two Minutes of Light, won the 2009 L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award. Her book has been selected as a Must-Read from the 9th Annual Massachusetts Book Awards. She has received numerous fellowships and awards including a 2010 grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and two seven-month poetry fellowships at The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Originally from Chattanooga, TN, she now lives on Cape Cod with her partner. Jane Hirshfield chose “Selene’s Horse” as the winner of the 2010 Wabash Prize for Poetry. It appeared in Issue 23.1.