Dale Champlin, Woman Cave 2, Collage, 2021
the horse snorts and shudders as another large wave
moves the ship in a way that land never moves, shifts the deck
sideways, sending the cumbersome creature sliding across the damp wood.
rough metal edges scrape jagged lines in the lacquered deck, a signature
letting future passengers and prisoners know that this horse was kept here.
although spared of knowing that it’s on a tiny ship
that’s just a tiny spot in the middle of an endless blue sea,
the horse knows, even from behind the blinders, the horse knows
it’s far away from home. even if it could break free
of the tiny cabin, there is no place for it to run,
no way for it to get back to the warm barn where it grew up
to the family of gentle hands that raised it, and for some reason, let it go
sent it here. outside the cabin, just past the dark
feet shuffle across the deck, angry voices shout at each other
say things about the horse that it can’t understand. food is dumped in
through a slot in the wall, fresh water is poured in through another hole
but for the rest of the trip, the horse is left completely alone
with no one to talk to about the strange salty taste of the air
the constant of waves buffeting the ship.