The horse snuffles in the morning fog,
Feeling the stirrings of his rider,
Smelling the fear and excitement.
The call of battle is on the dawn breezes,
Trumpet and drums in the distance.
The horse’s ears flicker forward and back at phantoms,
At distant whinnying, at visions of danger,
Chuckling deep in his chest, shuddering and blowing
Steaming blasts from quivering nostrils.
I must go soon.
How would you have me speak to you?
I truly no longer know.
Would you have me remain mute, for fear that my words
Bring pain, the knowing that you were once and still, truly loved?
It was just not enough.
Would you have me ask you why?
Would you tell me, this time?
Would you look at me again, with guarded eyes,
Neither regret nor reproach passing through to the outside, to me?
And would you turn away? Again?
Would you have me tell you one last time anyway, listening without reply,
Leaning into the words like a sultan’s captive would,
In the cool shadows, listening—through the
Carved screen of the harem,
Cheek pressed to cold stone and carved rosewood—to whispered words
That pierce with sweetness that makes you bleed?
In the night, from the courtyard below.
Would you want me to speak plainly as a man who wants a woman,
Who speaks of running his hands over willing, swelling flesh,
Rejoices in your voice, perfect and rising,
Touches your lips with his?
Who caresses you with words,
And conjures you open like a rose in the morning dew,
To make you whisper soft things into his ear,
To try to hold him with tears?
Would you have me simply not speak to you at all,
Let the silences stretch forever, so that you would not
Feel so keenly the depth of what you have lost?
The orders have come. We are off, our horses chuffing and stamping
Raising dust and answering some ancient call to battle.
It is too late. I am called. I may not return.
If only I knew what you would have me say.