Horses’ Mouths

W. Todd Kaneko

When the army brought us to the stables on our way to internment, they warned us about talking to the animals. We crowded into the stalls at night and listened to the horses explain the difference between sugar and glue, the weight of plow and cart, the jangle of spurs against bare flank. Their manes sizzled blue, electric as they told us about Silver riding the Lone Ranger back from the dead, about Man O’War outracing death. They told us about Comanche, who survived the Battle of Little Big Horn and then survived America and we shuddered. Outside, the horses hurtled across the landscape, from sea to shining shoreline, then back across the badlands. Pegasus stirred the windstorm with ancient wings. Sleipnir struck lightning with all eight hooves against the prairie. Longma broke a cobalt sky with Chinese fire while we hid our faces under thin blankets. The horses sang low songs for us, the blues for animals who are more than animals. The horses used our voices because the words did not fit in their mouths. When the horses were gone, the trucks took us to the internment camp.

 

Question: What did the horses say?

a) Horses belong to the world.
b) There are no horses, just smells of horses.
c) We should not speak about these things

 

From Hunger Mountain Issue 23: Silence & Power, which you can purchase here.

Art by @anna_croc01, curated by Dana Lyons.

W. Todd Kaneko is the author of THE DEAD WRESTLER ELEGIES (Curbside Splendor, 2014) and THIS IS HOW THE BONE SINGS (Black Lawrence Press, 2020), and co-author with Amorak Huey of POETRY: A WRITER’S GUIDE AND ANTHOLOGY (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018). A Kundiman fellow, he is co-editor of the literary magazine Waxwing and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he teaches at Grand Valley State University.