Wild horse at Chernobyl

One Poem by Martha Silano

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The Wild Horses of Chernobyl

I can’t stop thinking about the wild horses of Chernobyl,
keep going back to the sepia photographs, horses

with glowing eyes, living in a town where 33 years ago
the residents were ordered to evacuate, take only

essentials, leave their televisions and clothes,
their furniture and artwork, their cars. Were told

it would just be a few days, that the police would guard
their homes. I can’t stop looking into the eyes of the horses,

peering into the crumbling buildings and barns
where they breed and sleep, head shake and shy.

What the horses see is rubble, deteriorating dolls,
empty bottles of wine. What the horses know is relief

from the elements. What the horses are safe from:
boars, lynx, wolves—animals who’ve taken refuge

in a human-less place. What they’re safe from: us.






Martha SilanoMartha Silano’s most recent collection is Gravity Assist (Saturnalia Books, 2019). She is also co-author of The Daily Poet: Day-by-Day Prompts for Your Writing Practice. Martha teaches at Bellevue College and Seattle’s Hugo House. Keep up with her at marthasilano.net.

Read other poetry by Martha Silano appearing in Terrain.org: Letter to America, two poems, and two poems.

Learn more about the wild horses of Chernobyl.

Header photo, Przewalski’s horse in Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, by Michael Repenning, courtesy Shutterstock.

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