David Baker

Horse Madness


means fury; means heat.
   From Hippomanes,
in Ferry’s rendering
of Virgil’s third georgic:
is slick with froth; is blood-
lipped; is spring-wild.
I see it in your eyes.
The horse is meant,
   like us, for madness.
It must be held in halter

lest it rear or run.
   It must be scanted of
leafy foods
spring, to make it lean,
make it less familiar.
These things Virgil knows.
Yet it may run or rear
or with alarm
   betray your presence,
despite your care.

The eyes go everywhere.
   The eyes are orbital, animal;
they reflect both worlds.
So Jackanappes-

—weed we hold
as common marigold—
wraps a sun inside
   its petal before
the sun starts down . . .


Their eyes were my clock.
   Thus the oval eyes
of goats and sheep
turn rounder as their day
goes down. Turn round to see,
in thirst, in pain or panic,
what gallops near, whatever
holds itself away, grinding
   in the brooding dust.
What makes Virgil

so compelling, beyond
   the grace of verse, is
farmer knowledge.
Thus the shepherd sings
he finds his likeness
in their eyes; his judgment
grows of patience, as
practice grows of prudence.
   As goats deserve
no less than sheep deserve . . .


Means burning-in-the-
   marrow; means as-they-
rush-into-the-fire. Meaning
all of us. I look at you
and see—what? Mythology,
song. Thus slaughter begins,
among the bullocks,
when bees are lost
   and must be raised again.
The nose is stopped

(who devised an art
   like this?) and the body
beat until its innards fall.
Then—with marjoram—
a ferment. Then the offal
seeds with bees, and up
they may be gathered.
   Meaning madness
is its own mythology.

The horse begins
   to tremble. The body
shivers; nor whip, nor reins,
nor wide opposing river,
whose rising can bring down
, may hold one back.
These things Virgil knows.
I see it in your eyes. Means
   the face I see is not,
my love, my face.