The 2River View 22.3 (Spring 2018)

Virginia Slachman

Starless Field


All the horses are gone. All the horses
are broken. One horse left in the wind-
less and moon-lit drifting. His hooves

pound the earth without anger
as a mad child might a wood
toy, blows from his little hammer, each one

the same. The world is full of grace,
isn’t it? The dogs are also mad and
mindless, biting the slim and delicate tendons…. 

Foolishness, yet they killed the horse. Starless
field, the dogs’ mouths hung
with blood. And the horses pound

the earth, broken. They are no
help at all. The child continues,
intent, giving himself to his pure

work because not one of us can exceed
what we are. In the air, scent of wood
smoke, the field still as rapture.


The ducks are standing on the pond’s thin ice,
wings tucked, the late sun casting the last
of the day’s shadows. I know it’s ice, but maybe

they stand on water. After the first
step, the ice gives way. They fall. It’s such a small
falling. Perhaps they have too little

faith, or perhaps it’s merely the sun has worn
down the pond’s frigidity. A man watched this
with me, a young man come from the market. His life

is so secret, you can see that in how
his face hides nothing, as if he expects all
that is promised. He smiled as the ducks fell,

not in the way a mad child
would smile, being able to see only
the miraculous. I thought for a moment

that young man might rise
into the last of the day’s light, so
delighted he seemed, witnessing

a fallen world
where nothing is harmed.

Virginia Slachman is the author of three collections of poetry, a memoir, and one novel. A recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, she currently teaches at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. website

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