Why Horses Sleep Standing Up
Our lungs can no longer bear
the weight of our bodies,
so we have taken to sleeping
on our feet, at odd hours, and like horses
we shuffle out of consciousness
into another enclosure, another pasture.
Of inextinguishable grass. Fierce
rippling. The hiss and pith of a pliant hide
seething with dream as it hits
ordinary air—thermal shock,
this coming back.
The riders are waiting, apples in their hands.
Appaloosa, roan, and chestnut cloud
the east. Gleaming pewter hooves.
Copyright 1997, Nora Mitchell
Nora Mitchell is the director of the low-residency M.F.A. in Writing Program at Goddard
College. Her poetry has appeared in a number of magazines, including Calyx, Dark
Horse, Hawaii Review, Ploughshares, and Sojourner. She has published two books of
poetry, Your Skin Is A Country (Alice James Books, 1988) and Proofreading The
Histories (Alice James Books, 1996). "Why Horses Sleep Standing Up" was first
published in Proofreading the Histories.