We took delight in this, walking around the horse,
kicking its belly, bending down
to look directly into its dead eyes,
punching it, slugging it, cursing it—the great
beast lying on its side, its flanks
unheaving now. How we rejoiced!
How we called out to our friends, “Come join us!”
urging them to leave their democratic porches
and their sad little jokes. Our smallest ones
jumped on its flanks, for with a good running start
you could get up enough momentum
to crack its ribs. The tiniest girls
slapped its muzzle, dug into its ears. Teenagers
kneed it, flogged it, and even our oldest citizens
drew close, dreading it no more,
then spat into its mane. Like a silhouette
lying in the white dust, the dead horse
of course did not flinch nor beg for sugar,
nudging our hands as in the recent past,
but took each blow as if it deserved each one
and had it coming to it from the very start
when it pranced in our stables, we listened to it
whinnying for hours in the wooden stalls.
Original appearance in the New Criterion.