It was the Spanish or
English who brought these famous horses
when this place was called Florida,
still gallop on this Georgia coast and lean their muzzles into cordgrass.
How many generations does it take
to become feral, to be no longer broken in?
Shining trunks, waist-high grasses, light
knotting mossy limbs. Resin on your fingers and salt
Looking at this guide book’s sepia wildlife photos,
you’d never know anyone lived here before the horses.
The Mocama didn’t find them useful.
Lapping water under slash pines, the horses jolt, moving me
toward a joy I did not give myself
room to consider
trying my damnedest to live
in this vulgar country
bracketed by water—
Paolo Uccello’s Birds
It must have been about sacrifice,
a parable of sorts within the art. Why else
would Uccello, who so loved birds
as to have sketched their wings,
never paint one? His name meant Humble
Bird. No place for fluttering gloss
in rendering plain our linear perspective.
All recede into mathematical dark.
No space for swallows between lances
in The Battle of San Romano. So much tension
in all that Roman stillness: the banners
of nations and gold-plated weapons free of the gore
vultures will eat when they come
like grief and art from somewhere just outside our vision.