Three Poems by Peter Sears

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Return of the Horses’ Spirit

After the pillage, the fires,
and rounding up of the boys,
the soldiers returned months later, dug up the graves,
and took the bones away.
They drove the high road along the river,
drinking and yelling and throwing the bones,
one by one, into the ravine.
That’s when horses appeared on the ridge
and charged down onto the road.
The truck veered, plunged into the river.
No one has seen any horses for generations.
Now and then someone says he has seen horses on the ridge.
No one takes him seriously.
To hear the story is to see the horses,
their breath spouting from their nostrils.
But this isn’t what the soldiers tell,
the ones who didn’t drown in the river.
There were no horses, they say.
They blame the drunken truck driver.
This is just what the soldiers would say,
we insist, because the soldiers are still trying
to kill our story.

 

 

The Grease Pit

Say 8′ long, 6′ wide, and 6′ deep, into which, after dinner,
Army mess hall staff pours the grease of the day, and my
job on KP is to descend into the pit, and, with a stiff metal
broom and hose, clean out the pit, swab the grease down

the metal drain. I have to stand in the slop and rake
the broom back and forth to loosen the swarm of yick
imbedded in the drain. To get down into the pit, they give
me a ladder, then take it away. The pit walls are too

slimy to climb. They are to come inspect my work
after a while, and, if the pit is clean, lower the ladder
to me. I am done with the job and want to clean
my boots, which will stink for days. Snow begins to fall.

I bounce from foot to foot. I hear them up there. They
are smoking. It’s dark, the snow is starting to stick.

 

 

I Hum to My Shivering

I am walking along the road at night,
shivering. Humming to my shivering.
I walk into a spider web in a doorway

— that’s what it feels like. I wave
my hand across my face. Snow!
I’ve caught it just as it starts.

It smells good. Maybe things will
be okay. I worried all day. I couldn’t
keep anything down. Look,

the snow seems to part as if
opening up a passageway.
Is that how it feels going over

to the other side? When I go,
maybe I’ll dissolve like one of
these snowflakes. I look up into

so many against the night. Flakes
land in my palm one at a time.
I feel like a happy god.

 

 

 

Peter Sears’s Small Talk: New and Selected Poems will be published by Lynx House Press in late 2014. He has published poems in Saturday Review, Field, The Atlantic, Poetry Northwest, and Rolling Stone. He lives in Corvallis, Oregon.

Horse galloping in snow photo by Benoit Daoust, courtesy Shutterstock.

  1. Dear Peter,

    I was very moved by your poem about the spirit of horses…the round-up and killing of thousands of horses was a brutality akin to genocide for the indigenous peoples to whom the horses meant so much in both material and spiritual terms. As a horse-lover and owner myself, I find these thousands of deaths still have the power to shock and sadden. And of course, the round-up and penning of mustangs still continues. In my novel, Red River Stallion, (Bloomsbury 2013) I explore the power of the horse-spirit for a Metis girl. Thank you for your poem.

Comments are closed.

Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.