Vox Populi

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Michael Simms: The Horses

The queen woke in the large bed alone. 

She’d been dreaming of a faraway war 

She’d acquiesced to, children shivering 

In the ruins. Her one power was

To agree with her ministers. 

They bowed before her and she listened. 

Or not. And agreed. She always agreed.

She felt small, a girl in a suit 

Of armor designed for a man 

Standing guard in the long corridor

Of her ancestry. She lived alone

With people who had jobs to do. 

She had a job to do as well, 

The embodiment of the nation. 

People loved her as they might love 

A flag or a map or a story

Of a country of green pastures 

And low stone walls, a nation

Of cathedrals and small churches,

Quaint shops of stopped clocks

Precisely right twice a day

While city streets pounded

With angry music she didn’t understand

And crowds roiled in the tubes

Commuting to jobs they hated. 

To many she was nothing more

Than a picture in The Times,

A portrait on a postage stamp,

A reminder of things best forgot.

The Crown her office was called, 

A thing of gold wire and polished stones 

Real enough to buy another decade, 

Another gesture on the puppet stage.

She was a prisoner of the need 

To believe their small country mattered.

What mattered to her were the horses.

She thanked Angela for dressing her 

And walked quickly to the stables 

Where her beauties 

Were awake, steam flaring 

From wide nostrils, eyes bright 

For the queen of apples.

Her Majesty Elizabeth II (21 April 1926 – September 8, 2022)

Getting her first horse at age 4, the then-princess would become an accomplished rider by age 18, and by 23 won her first race as an owner. Soon her majesty would find her passion for horses spilling over into an interest in the business of equine breeding and racing. (source: Casino.org)

26 comments on “Michael Simms: The Horses

  1. Lisa Zimmerman
    September 20, 2022

    “She felt small, a girl in a suit

    Of armor designed for a man

    Standing guard in the long corridor

    Of her ancestry.”

    I love how you honor the best in this quiet and complicated leader, Michael.

    Like

  2. Mike Schneider
    September 14, 2022

    Just back from Ireland & London, Michael, & it’s a pleasure to re-read your terrific poem. I’ve been a bit stunned at the degree to which the spectacle, pomp & ceremony of all this became inescapable, an every minute in-your-face experience — nearly impossible to avoid. There’s a deep (call it archetypal, if you like & you’re Jungian) collective human need to respond as if to the loss of a “Great Mother” . . . the dear mummy of a nation. It’s a kind of love. Nearly everyone who works in service in Great Britain, restaurants, hotels, etc. is originally from some far-flung once-upon-a-time corner of the Empire. I talked with several, cause the phenomenon fascinated me. So un-American. Most understood it, I’d say, to the extent they could agree, as respect for a nice lady. As for the monarchy — a much different story. For many, many Brits & “subjects” it’s a useless, embarrassing institution. I think there’s more than a little hope that this occasion may somehow lead to a change, though no one I talked with has any real idea how that could transpire.

    Like

    • Vox Populi
      September 14, 2022

      Thanks, Mike. My impression of Q.E. was that she was born into an impossible job, an anachronistic role, a pretend monarchy, but she did the best she could to serve with grace and dignity. With a less popular monarch, I doubt the institution will survive.

      >

      Like

  3. Kathleen OToole
    September 13, 2022

    Very nice Michael. I’m planning to send you a few poems at the end of September. Been beset (aren’t we all) with deaths, and downsizing, moving etc. But promise to send a few pieces you way. Always enjoy reading VP.

    Like

    • Vox Populi
      September 14, 2022

      Thanks, Kathleen! Always a pleasure to hear from you.

      >

      Like

  4. Ruth
    September 11, 2022

    Yes, a human being. A living being come to the end of her life. You capture the complexities, the humanity.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. vengodalmare
    September 10, 2022

    Well written this tribute, this memory of a woman certainly perfect in her role but the poisoned apples will have taken her but also given her some.

    But poetry is really beautiful, sweet delicate and human, because then in the end a queen is still a human being.

    Like

    • Vox Populi
      September 10, 2022

      Thank you, Marina, for this generous praise. You’ve captured the theme of the poem very well.

      >

      Liked by 1 person

  6. kim4true
    September 9, 2022

    Lovely, Michael. I also really like this picture of the queen, clearly delighted as she communes with a horse. To me, her love of dogs and horses always made her relatable, human.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Vox Populi
      September 9, 2022

      Thanks, Kim. Yes, I think her love for dog and horses was deep and genuine.

      >

      Liked by 3 people

  7. John Z
    September 9, 2022

    The best way to remember. Best, JZ

    Liked by 1 person

  8. johnlawsonpoet
    September 9, 2022

    Totally nailed it: the pathos of the monarch in general but also of Elizabeth II in particular. And I think there’s something universal about that pathos, too; we’re all monarchs of our little psychic kingdoms. “And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns…”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Deborah DeNicola
    September 9, 2022

    What a wonderful poem, Michael! So timely too. (I have trouble trying to comment on the site. It asks for my web site and I put the whole thing in and it isn’t accepted. Keeps saying put in the URL. And yes, I tried it 4 different ways.) Anywho, I loved your poem and lots of the poems you publish. All Good Things, Deborah

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  10. enkayrn
    September 9, 2022

    This is great, Michael. I love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. loranneke
    September 9, 2022

    Wow, Mike — what a poem! “She was a prisoner of the need

    To believe their small country mattered.”!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Vox Populi
      September 9, 2022

      Thanks, Laure-Anne. I thought Q.E. was born into an impossible job which she handled with grace and dignity, but her true love was being with her horses.

      >

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Saleh Razzouk
    September 9, 2022

    Well.
    New one.
    Horses were part of my symbolic world since i read They Shoot Horses, Do not They?. by Horace McCoy. On Great Depression.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. gdrew2013
    September 9, 2022

    Just a lovely poem, Michael! A golden cage indeed.And that Queen of Apples—perfect: touching,joyful and sad, simultaneously. Best,

    George

    -----------------------------------------
    

    Like

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