The horses were so beautiful but the people
ugly. Why is that? Both seemed perfectly alive.
Both seemed to want to do what was asked of them
as bullets snapped hitting branches and rocks
and a blast wave blew everything down.
I crouched against a boulder looking for safety,
returning fire, everything in dreamy slow motion,
orange smoke drifting out of the misty hole,
introducing the idea of beauty as a salve
and of aesthetics making something difficult accessible.
Alone in that box of crisscrossing lead—
my ears ringing, my skin pouring sweat—
I missed you. But it was a rather pleasant feeling
being waited for. God must be happy, I thought.
Henri Cole is the poetry editor of The New Republic. This poem ran in the October 14, 2010, issue of the magazine.