“Every twelve years, give or take this moment”

Listen to Dionisio Martínez reading this poem.

Every twelve years, give or take this moment, there are horses within
reach—wild, nameless horses like beasts before the flood, their hoof-

beats provoking the disheveled winds to mark an unremarkable spot
where the lesser roads became the plain; it’s not a stampede or the swish

of a drummer’s brushes or even imaginary breathing; it begins like
a story, which is to say: it begins by disappointing. Paper horses cut

out of comic books, their riders calling out their own names from what’s
left of them on what’s left of the pages. Each of the rooms in the house

is swept according to tradition, dust neatly piled in the center. It is some-
times possible from this vantage point to see the difference between

wholeness and a semblance of wholeness, to understand the duties of a
bystander when dark grass rises through sheets of ice. One horse carved

out of wood too green for burning—in a nod to innocence, when it was
possible not to pay attention to detail: Is a child drawn to the intricacies

of the saddle, or is there an innate compulsion to ride bareback? We carve
the past as we see it, and our vision is, at best, no more reliable than

TV reception avoiding sunspots. There’s always memory, of course—that
rented room paid in full before we move back in: if the horse were

hollow, we’d be thinking of places we know precious little about; we
would climb inside and wait for orders; we are willing to be that small.