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I would believe in the unicorn if it stood heaving and slathered,
snapping flies off its flank with its tail. It does not smell
of sweat and stable, does not snort at the wolf in the brush
and twitch its ears. A unicorn does not get dirty,
kick up mud when it runs. I know that I would throw
my leg over a bareback horse sooner than I’d step
into the stirrup of a saddled unicorn. For spite, I’d shoot
and slaughter one, roast choice bits over a fire, and hang
its horn from my belt, just to outrage the legions
of tourists of the imagination, the kind who flock
to séances, or invite Rasputin to tea. A unicorn
is impossibly cute, it doesn’t shit or rub its rump against a tree.
But a horse, my god, can swing its neck around at a dog’s yip
and break your jaw, can brain you with a hoof.
It makes the ground shake. Look at him, the black pool
of his eye, muscle rippling along the flanks, and how
he stands, placid, chewing, as the little girl lies on top of him
braiding his mane, whispering, my magic, my magic, my boy.
From Horse Medicine, copyright 2015 Doug Anderson. Published by Barrow Street.