Monday, July 31, 2006

Statues in the Park

I thought of you today
when I stopped before an equestrian statue
in the middle of a public square,

you who had once instructed me
in the code of these noble poses.

A horse rearing up with two legs raised,
you told me, meant the rider had died in battle.

If only one leg was lifted,
the man had elsewhere succumbed to his wounds;

and if four legs were touching the ground,
as they were in this case --
bronze hooves affixed to a stone base --
it meant that the man on the horse,

this one staring intently
over the closed movie theater across the street,
had died of a cause other than war.

In the shadow of the statue,
I wondered about the others
who had simply walked through life
without a horse, a saddle, or a sword --

pedestrians who could no longer
place one foot in front of the other.

I pictured statues of the sickly
recumbent on their cold stone beds,
the suicides toeing the marble edge,

statues of accident victims covering their eyes,
the murdered covering their wounds,
the drowned silently treading the air.

And there was I,
up on a rosy-gray block of granite
near a cluster of shade trees in the local park,
my name and dates pressed into a plaque,

down on my knees, eyes lifted,
praying to the passing clouds,
forever begging for just one more day.

- Billy Collins

2 comments:

eped said...

I started & read it, thinking at first that it was yours, and very good.

Dainon said...

Now that ... THAT is as big as compliments get. Thank you.