Halter

Kevin Young

Nothing can make, make me want
to stay
in this world—

not the grass
with its head of hair
turning grey—

not the swayback horse
in the field
I swear I almost saw

start to saunter—

nor the bent shadows
late in the day
drawing close—

the neighbor’s boat
not yet docked
gathering snow

not the dream
with the moose hunched
in its crown

shedding velvet
led by a silver halter
through the shaded campground—

a shawl over its shoulders
like a caftan on a grandmother
or her rocker

whenever she’s no longer there.

Not the brass nail-heads
on the Adirondack chair
I put together, sweating,

this morning, that creaks
but still
does hold—

nor the cries of the others
above water, beloved
bright voices of summer

echoing like the ice cream man
in his whirring truck—
along the curb his lights flash

like an ambulance
playing the tune
you cannot name—yet know—

except this babbling, like a light
barely shining,
from below the baby’s cracked door.

Kevin Young is the author of thirteen books of poetry and prose, the director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and poetry editor of The New Yorker.
Originally published:
January 1, 2020

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